Monday, January 27, 2014
My dear friend Chris died Friday at 4:02 pm. I think it’s weird that we have an exact time.
Chris had struggled with increasingly difficult effects of Type 2 diabetes over the years, and she spent a fair amount of time in hospitals and clinics over the last few months as her body continued a downward spiral. I will write to you more about her when some time has passed, but for now her death has stirred some thoughts about eternity that I want to explore with you.
Friday evening some of our friends who loved Chris came to our home to play 1960s music from Malvina Reynolds, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and so forth. During one break in the singing, one of my friends said, “I can’t believe Chris is gone.”
It was silent for a moment, and then I said what I felt to be true, “This probably sounds corny, but I think Chris is with us.”
I'll try explaining what I meant about her still being here, both for you and for me. The truth is that I don't even know exactly what I mean. I just know that it's true.
Maybe I mean a lot of things. For one thing, her spirit has become part of my spirit. My heart and my life are different than they would have been without her. I don't mean just the memory of her. I mean that she is part of who I am.
She and I read poetry and wrote together. Writing, like music, has life and eternity to it. So she is alive in her words and in mine.
And…and this is the hardest part for me to explain without sounding like a weirdo or Pollyanna, but I believe that there's some elemental part of us that's eternal…not that necessarily maintains our personalities, but a great energy that I think of as God, an energy from which we come and to which we return. Once in our writing group, Chris invited us to write about what's in the middle of a black hole. Maybe that.
I do not mean by this reflection that Chris was otherworldly. She was absolutely of this world. One thing that I kept hearing friends and family say about Chris as she lay dying was how amazingly present she had always been. This was a gift. When I heard The Indigo Girls’ “History of Us” today, I thought of her:
So we must love while these moments are still called today,
Take part in the pain of this passion play,
Stretching our youth as we must, until we are ashes to dust,
Until time makes history of us.
So in one sense time has made history of us, or at least of Chris. I am glad that we loved while we could. But I also think she’s still with me. I think it was her presence in the present that makes me so clear that she is still here, in the eternal now.
I don't know if that provides any more clarity about what I mean. I still do and do not know exactly what I mean.