We had three candles burning over dinner last night. We lit them earlier in the evening to honour the passing of three souls who had left their bodies over the last couple of days. An elderly friend of mine who, when I spoke to her a couple of weeks ago had seemed well but whose health had declined very suddenly, my partner’s friend’s dad, and my dad’s wife’s sister who I had not met but whose death came as a major shock to many and brought a harrowing grief to her immediate family.
We had a moment’s silence and I let the sadness of these losses wash over me like rain. Then I gently let the droplets of sadness sink into me and I felt my heart absorbing them. We wished the three well on their journey as the flickering flames lit the way for them.
Naturally I thought of my own mother who left her body last year, when I was pregnant. I remembered the searing pain that I experience often when I look at my beautiful baby girl and remember how excited my mum was when she discovered she was to be a grandmother… Finally! (- My fertility journey had been a rocky one). Then came the tsunami of grief, knocking me over, taking me out. I felt that moment of despair - the feeling you will know if you have gone through any kind of grief before. When you think: how can I ever be happy again? How can I possibly live with this loss?
I closed my eyes and connected with my breath. I saw the feeling as a colour (dark indigo in this case) and I gave it a shape (this time it was circular). Next I analysed where it was hurting me in my body (in my chest). Objectifying the emotion like this helped ease the pain it was inflicting on me.
Seeing this particular emotion as a circle interested me. Especially in the context of becoming a mother at the time of losing mine. The cycles of life. In Indian classical music and in Indian philosophy which is encompassed in yogic teachings, everything is cyclic. Each note, each tone comes from somewhere and is going somewhere - you can hear it if you listen to a Hinduistani singer. Especially in the introduction ‘Alaap’ part of a composition, When they are exploring the Raag and all it’s subtle nuances. Likewise, there is the the idea of karma and of reincarnation - many lives connected. Death moving into new life moving into death and so on.
These thoughts and connections comforted me. There is so much more to life than we often take the time to see and grief rips you open to feel it. It widens your eyes to the magic of life. The colours become more vivid and beauty becomes more visceral, more integrated into a wider scope of emotions. My friend - whose candle was now burning bright - used to say ‘Beauty is Truth’. I wasn’t sure exactly what she meant by this when she first said it. But now I understand. Reality is tough. But it sure is beautiful. Because beneath the toughness, inside the pain, there is love. It is love that creates the pain: No love - no pain - no life. And if you try stop the wheels of life turning out of fear, out of a need to control what we cannot control (- the unknown), you are fighting a lost cause. Death gives way for new life. We are all seeds. We are all connected. We are one.
I straighten my back, my daughter - Anouki - still in my arms, feeding. Roll my shoulders back and fill my lungs with air. I begin to sing. I don’t plan what I will sing, I just let my voice out. Not surprisingly it comes out as an Om (force of habit!). But after a few of these, a song comes. It just arrives in my head. A comforting lullaby that my dad used to sing to me when I was little. I sing it over and over. I pour all my emotion into it, I sing until my mind is empty and I have entered a deep state of meditation. When I land in this place of peace, I am filled with light. It is a feeling of safety, of being held, a sense that everything is going to be alright. It is happiness gently emerging. I notice it and try to resist the urge to grasp at it. It will always be there.
Your inner peace is one thing that no-one can take away from you. Ever.
I look at Anouki and although I am still aware of the pain, the feeling of gratitude - for her, for my mother and for my life - is beginning to take over.