Well, Sesshin is almost upon us - just a few days now. The past week and a half I've been dealing with the Death of a loved one. It took a bit of time for words to fall into place. This was a newer kind of experience for me. This is the closest person to me to ever die. All of my family has been alive for the 55 years I have been, save one grandmother, whom I was not so close to. At 106 she was ready.
Going back several months, I was talking to my teacher about the death of friends and associates, and how I was a bit concerned that I did not take the loss like most of my peers here. Several close friends here have passed on. While I was saddened and grieved for the loss, it felt rather short and not very deep, this grieving. After all, I loved these people, and missed them. My teacher was unconcerned and encouraged me that we all grieve differently. If I'm allowing everything to flow at it's own pace - there is no set standard.
Then my one-time partner of 10 years passed away on the 17th. We were still in contact, and still quite close. It hit like avalanche, and it felt like I found all that missing grief. For several days it was difficult to function, and with the great support of my Zen family I was able to stop and grieve, be supported, and somehow managed to get both the space I needed, and the support and contact. Not sure how we pulled that off, but I am grateful!
The funeral was just two days ago, and I was terrified at seeing her in state, and losing myself to grief completely. But a different thing happened instead. (Isn't it always that way? Our stories can be so fictional it's a wonder we get caught up in believing them!). There was lots of family and friends, support and resting, and stopping, eating, looking at pictures, and her buddhist altar was there. There was an interpreter for me, and I was able to participate properly. At one point during the service, both the interpreter and I were gently shedding tears at the love and support.
I did not have the feared crisis when I saw here there, and I was able to say goodbye.
I am now very grateful for being encouraged to go. (Thank you Paul!). Sure, it was painful, and I did expect her physical presence to undo me. It did not. Just the opposite. It was like stitches for the wound. Still wounded, but now healing can begin. Since that night, the grief has been present, and then it takes a break. Then it arrives again. This cycle is very merciful. The pain must be felt and allowed, yet I get a break for neutrality, and even joy and laughter with my friends.
The koan right now is to allow that. Coming and going. Like the tide. The tides give our planet life, and the analogy is not lost here. I talk to her. Get a little angry. Grieve. Sad. Then joy pops up again.
So, I am reconnecting again with the Practice Period and getting ready for Rohatsu. Couple days rest here at Thanksgiving - and Saturday Ohsin arrives. He's Deaf too, and will share this time with me.
Looking forward to seeing you all next week in my peripheral vision! (Gotta watch that eye contact during Rohatsu! - QLTM).