My 81 year old sister Gail died in her sleep on October 10th. She felt well and was happy. She was not afraid of death and if she could remember her death, she would not be surprised; just pissed off because she did not have a chance to vote.
She left two children and three grandchildren who are deeply grieving her loss as am I.
Grief is one of our greatest teachers. It cracks us open—that’s how the light gets in. It demands that we look at our relationship with life and our fear of death. It reveals the great healing power of love. Ram Dass
Gail and I had a great relationship and due to recent conversations with her, I have a sense of completion. I miss her and find it so strange that she is gone. We were the witness to each other’s life. I expected to die before she did. I can hear her saying “Hah, you thought I was going to grieve you; so there”
I am now the last of my generation except for a very distant cousin. My twin brother died when we were 35, the same year as my mother. It is a strange feeling being the last one. It is lonely. There are only a couple of people, lifelong friends who knew my father or brother.
I think about my family’s previous generation who of course have all gone. I remember seeing a picture of a stadium with 20,000 baseball fans in 1890 and it struck me, “My God, they’re all dead”. 20,000 ordinary people, not unlike you and me, who no longer cast a shadow with no real artifacts to speak of that reveal they ever existed. This certainly gives one perspective on the human condition and how we are all on death row. And yet I do believe that we are living in our ancestors wake as we create our own wake for the future, whether it be good or bad.
Even with this perspective, we grieve. And, it is hard. Having lost a 19 year old son who would have been 48 this year, I know. The wound of loss can be searingly deep and yet it will heal just as the body heals a physical wound. Grief is not an event; it is a natural process that takes time and it is unique for each person.
So, I grieve for Gail and yet I have a quiet peacefulness. She led a good life and was loved.
I’m the last leaf on the tree.
The autumn took the rest, but they won’t take me. . . .
I’ll be here through eternity
If you want to know how long
If they cut down this tree, I’ll show up in a song.