At age 69 I have begun to listen to older friends as they cope with losing one friend after the other. Someone said she can go to three funerals a week some months. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around that kind of loss and how it must feel After awhile one must just throw up one’s arms and shout, “Bring it on! I’m all alone anyway!” I want to continue with tried and true spiritual practices that have sustained me in the past, and develop new ones to see me through this new stage of aging, which began today with news that my recently deceased sister’s friend has received a sobering diagnosis. The best practice for me seems to hit it straight-on, put it out there where I can see it. So here it is:
First family funerals-
Expected. Sick and aging parents.
We can do this.
We make peace with
The emptiness left by November’s unleaving.*
Life goes on, they say.
And it does.
Then sibling death-
That shouldn’t happen,
But it does.
It doesn’t stop there.
Today I hear November winds howl
Around vulnerable friends
Who stand like dominoes
Waiting their turn.
I feel like the Ancient Mariner,
“Alone, alone, all, all alone, “
Wondering what curse I have called down.
How do we bear this Last unleaving?
Our bare, black spirit -limbs
Are leaved round by brilliant
© rita h kowats
* I am indebted here to Gerard Manley Hopkins for the word, “Unleaving,” coined in his poem, “Spring and Fall.”
** “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Fourth Part