My friend died from COVID-19 pneumonia and other complications. She turned thirty-eight years old in February while in ICU on a ventilator. She is not the only person I love to die from this deadly plague. Several relatives, ranging in age from teenager to elder, have transitioned from this earth during the last few months, some from COVID-19, others from various other diseases. All of them are beloved.
I believe that to die is not to cease to live. Death is a vehicle to transport the spirit from one area of existence to another. Those I love who have died are now in the ancestral plane, more alive than they have ever been, without pain, disease, or the stress associated with life on earth. They are free indeed. Agony is the term I use to describe the task of adjusting to their absence. Simultaneously, gratitude and joy sometimes flood my soul as I remember how each one enhanced my life.
This time of pandemic and unrest in the United States has caused many to experience anxiety. I am no exception. It started with my “skin crawling” uncontrollably. After several weeks in therapy, the crawling ceased. Later there were “knots in the stomach” that still show up from time to time. On some days, I find myself grinding my teeth. The urge to cry and the occasional loss of appetite visit also.
I long for the comfort of my mother, my father’s strength, and the support of my husband. I feel like an orphan set adrift in the expanse of the ocean. Connections seem impossible yet; I keep seeking. I keep praying and pouring myself out to God without pretense or posturing. Learning to listen intently for God’s voice and accepting the grace God offers has become a high endeavor.
While I feel undone, I do not feel as though I am falling apart. There is an examination taking place on the deepest parts of me. From thoughts to words, to actions, every component is surveyed and set right where necessary. This process is exhaustingly challenging and essential. Learning theory teaches us that learning takes place at the point of disequilibrium or frustration. So, what am I learning in this process?
I am learning that above all else, God requires that I be my authentic self. I have spent many years attempting to be what I thought God wanted me to be, only to discover that God wanted me to be me. The song “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” takes on a new meaning. Jesus loves me, disheveled, disconcerted, discombobulated. I do not need to have it all together. That discovery is freedom.
Through grief and disappointments, my heart is tender for others. Compassion is replacing judgmental thought and words. The world is more than what I see around me. My prayers are on a more global scale as I realize that what I am experiencing now, some others have experienced, and worse, their entire lifetime. Prayers spring forth for those who never have enough to eat. My heart wrenches for young children who have been left orphaned by pestilence and war. Everyday things that I took for granted and thought were my right, like indoor plumbing, have become moments of worship and supplication. The urging to pray awakens me from my sleep and presses me throughout the day.
Reflection, rediscovery, and reset are the order of the day. Some firmly held thoughts are undergoing restructuring. New paradigms are replacing old thought patterns. Marvelous people with diverse ways of knowing and understanding have entered my life. God is universal, and the Divine is divine.
Mourning continues but not without purpose. Mourning offers the opportunity to remember the expressions of love that are no longer earthly tangible. Mourning evokes an appreciation for time spent together. In mourning, we find tears and laughter. We discover sadness and song. Mourning may be in darkness, but therein also resides The Light.