I remember when my last living grandparent died. It was like I'd moved one step up the ladder.
You know the ladder I'm talking about. The Ladder of Life. Which, as we all know, culminates in death. Okay, yeah. It should be called the Ladder of Death. But can I just say that sounds oppressive?
While we've all been conditioned to want to climb the Ladder of Success, I don't know of one person who wants to climb that other ladder, regardless of what we call it.
When my mom died, I needed to focus on the spiritual elements I believed in and not my sense of loss, which I believe was ultimately selfish. When I cry (and I still do) it's all about me and my loss and not about her. Not really. Even when I think my focus is on her.
And then there's that damn ladder.
I've lost a friend. Theodora Smith battled breast cancer for ten long years. She was one of the most loving and creative and charming and positive people I've ever known. She died when she was only 49. I remember going to see her during one of her many hospitalizations with the goal of helping her feel better. Guess who left feeling more lighthearted—and not because of anything I'd done? Yep. Me. In the game, Chutes and Ladders (if I remember right) "chutes" send a player flying down. In the reality of Thee? She shot up far beyond the reach of any stupid ladder.
So there's that.
When I have another friend or loved one who I lose (and unless I drop dead first, it's gonna happen), here's what I want to hold onto; here's what I want to remember and focus on:
Death is a corrupt term. It's only about loss. Selfish loss. It robs us of that feeling of unconditional love. So I want to forget the idea of death.
I believe that when a person dies, they leave our physical plane and transition into another place. What will save me, save my sorrow that isn't linked to selfishness, is to think about their fabulous transition, and the joy it means for them.
Oh, and... there's nothing wrong with enormous sob-fests when we remember those who we've lost. My mom died in 2008 and it's only been in the last few years that I've gotten a handle on scheduling my selfish moments when I cry my eyes out with loss.
I can feel the need building and I can play a certain song. With those notes tears will flow, my nose will run, and my eyes will get red and swollen. It's ugly but it's a release. I know it's selfish. But hey... I'm human.
And then, after some sadness, I'm okay.
You've all heard about the reason newborns cry... they've transitioned into a completely alien world from the one they've been in for a few months. Well, after a few decades and a little preparation, I'm hoping the transition for me and my loved ones will be nothing less than exciting. No tears. Because we, at that moment of transition, anxiously await what comes next.
We'll go from Chutes and Ladders to Rocket Ships and Wonder.
Are you with me?
It's all better with friends.