Reflections on Absence

IMG_3755The Day After Death is always strange with its aura of absence, of wondering whether I did the right thing, made the best choice. I’m never one hundred percent sure. Was it too soon or too late? Was it for them or me? Was our life together as mutually rewarding as it could be? I experience a lot of second-guessing and anxiety along with the simple, deep awareness of absence.

Responsibility and Resilience — to accept the former and trust that the latter will find its way into the cracks of a well-worn heart.

The Day Of Death is spent inside the process of being present for another soul’s transition, and after she has gone, there is this pause of emptiness and feeling lost, as if the world has stopped spinning and we are all suspended like a dream on a slender thread that could snap at any moment. But then the turning starts up again and I’m dizzy with the new unfamiliar absence.

I eat. I always do in times of stress, whether grief or joy, the extremes seem to require ingestion of the present experience which is mirrored by food and eating. When grieving, though, I often eat until I’m sick, until my body screams in protest and I slump in defeat, until the pain in my stomach challenges the pain in my heart, and I feel a sort of vacancy of breath. A form of suspension of belief.

But the Day After Death is different than the Day Of. For me, it’s not heavier but lighter, as if I am not tethered very securely and I am witness to all the emptyIMG_3754 space around me, as if the distance between objects has been magnified and what once took me three strides to reach appears to be a three-day journey. Sounds seem to come from far away and yet when they arrive are as claps of thunder, shattering.

The absence creates expanded space yet I don’t feel alone — it has the effect of bringing me closer to the infinite Oneness that is all of us, our entire Universe that is uncrowded and possibility stretches into Ever After until we begin again.

Within the space that is holding the absence of body, there is a stronger presence of Spirit. I inhale the curious blend of absence and presence, and peace envelopes me in a pink cloud of cotton candy. Time becomes irrelevant, and, when I button both ears closed, silence descends.

Silence doesn’t bother me nor does it make me feel alone, whether in the woods, on a mountain, or out walking in the desert. The absence of human construct and noise is a balm to my mind and senses.

IMG_3753Proposal. A brief venture into the desert today, to be away from the cover of home, car, or buildings — exposure. To walk away, into the desert of revealment and the withdrawal of protection or ability to hide. To, just for a few minutes, be in the absence of cover instead of the absence being inside me.

_____________

Yesterday, Guinevere, a sweetheart of a cat, died (with the kind assistance of a vet who makes home visits). Two months ago, Pooka the amazing Corgi died (also with assistance). Guinevere was the 14th cat I’ve lost, and Pooka was the 7th dog. It never gets easier, and can be especially hard when more than one loss occurs within a short period of time, but I wouldn’t change a thing — I’m deeply grateful for every single one of the precious creatures who has graced my life. I’m truly blessed.

“We who choose to surround ourselves with liveseven more temporary than our own live within a fragile circle; easily and often breached. Yet, still we would live no other way.”  – Irving Townsend

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2 thoughts on “Reflections on Absence

  1. This is so poignant and beautifully written, Darla! I particularly loved this phrase: “as if I am not tethered very securely and I am witness to all the empty space around me, as if the distance between objects has been magnified and what once took me three strides to reach appears to be a three-day journey.” This is a wonderfully poetic statement about a very familiar experience, yet I don’t think I’d ever noticed it before until I read your words. Thank you for improving my awareness and making me think more deeply about this painful subject. Blessings, Jeanie

Thank you for sharing.

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