Yesterday I found myself in a hospital room with a relative who had passed away unexpectedly hours before. He is my mother's cousin but I call him Tio (Uncle). The room was full with his grieving children and siblings.
His oldest sister hugged me and said, "Ya se fue tu Tio." "Your Uncle is gone." I kissed her cheek.
The scene before me broke my heart. But I did not feel it was my right to express tears here. This was not my moment. Instead I somberly observed and internally prayed for their comfort with my back against a wall.
His oldest son is twenty-five. He is now the Man of the House. He spoke in English and Spanish to his family.
"We don't have money for the funeral so we will have to plan a carwash. We need to earn the money," he said.
I watched as sister of the deceased rubbed and caressed her brother's face. "I want to keep his body warm for as long as possible," she said in Spanish.
I watched my mother discreetly hand money to whoever would take it. She always does that. She gives away thousands of dollars at a time to those in need. People know they can count on her.
When this cousin came to my mother for work she employed him. Times are hard. He was grateful for the job. She was happy to help. When I have money again (and I will) I want to be just like my mother. I want to be blessed with money, so I can give it away. (Prada and Valentino are worthy causes too, but I won't be contributing in the future. ;)
I squeezed his foot in offering of my Farewell.
We left the hospital.
"My stomach is upset," said my mother. "Take me to Beyond Bread. The only thing I can think to eat is their soup."
I took her to Beyond Bread on Ina and Oracle at the Safeway Shopping Center.
Have you heard about what happened at The Safeway on Ina and Oracle in Tucson?
There are lit candles, balloons, teddy bears, vans with huge satellites, news people and The Grief -Stricken everywhere.
I was a hystercal, tear-stained disaster all day Saturday after I learned of the Giffords Tragedy. I don't personally know any of the victims but pain, outrage, confusion and fear were accute.
I felt numb yesterday in the face of another death. I stood before a man I had spoken to days before, yet he was gone. It was all too much to process. Last night I took a Crazy Pill and went to bed early to escape.
Today I'm trying figure it all out.
What am I to learn from this?
I once read that when we cry for the deceased we are actually crying for ourselves.
For two months now I have been pouring over a book my mother bought when her father died. Life Everlasting by Duane Crowther. Crowther wrote the book after his young daughter passed away from Leukemia.
Here is a candidly contrived picture of me "reading" said book. I had no intention of blogging on it at the time. But I can't possibly post this without reminding you all how very vain I am.
The book is full of Life After Death accounts. It's pretty cool, actually.
For some reason I have felt the need to learn as much as I can about Life After Death.
Often I feel as though I am living in a circus tent. A Fun House with distorted mirrors, slight of hand, magician's tricks, blinding lights, jarring music, creepy clowns with yellow teeth and bearded ladies. Clarity is fleeting. I KNOW there is MORE beyond the walls of this tent. I can almost see it!
I become enraged at the thought of a young man washing cars with tears in his eyes in order to raise the money to bury his father. I become disgusted at the poverty and senseless acts of violence that occur daily. None of it registers in my confused mind.
So I study what others have seen beyond this Freak Show.
There is one account in particular that comes to my mind often.
In 1878 one Thomas A. Shreeve lay near death. His baby brother who had drowned years earlier visited him in a dream. Here is part of their conversation.
" 'Have you brought any message to me?'
To this question he answered, 'Yes'... and his eyes looked straight into mine, and he came nestling into my arms. He lifted the forefinger of his right hand toward my face and said:
'Only be true!' "
Difficult lesson to learn and carry out, as I am Naturally selfish, dark, dishonest, vain and prideful.
None of us knows what the future holds for us. We don't know our time of death nor when our loved ones will be taken. My kneejerk reaction is fear. Fear, however, is dibilitating. Fear cripples us and prevents Love and Faith.
I have Faith the victims of Saturday's tragedy and my Tio are safe. They have fulfilled their missions here. Clarity and peace abound for them. They are enveloped in Love. No one can hurt them now.
WE are the ones left to flounder in the dark. WE are left to discern illusion and shadow. WE must make the most of the minutes we have been given.
So BE TRUE are the words I feel whispered to my heart as I pray and meditate today. Be True to my Eternal Self regardless of outside influences and temptation. Be True to the commitments and promises I have made. Be True to my family and friends. Be True to God.
Here is another picture of me holding my yellow book, just in case you mistakenly thought I had abandoned my evil ways completely between now and the picture posted above.
God Bless those who have lost Loved Ones and suffer unbearable pain tonight. Pray. Pray. Pray.