Monday, March 18, 2013

A Life's End

She stopped breathing and ended, by so doing, a lifetime of goodness, integrity and generosity.  She was my husband's Mom but also my "love Mom" since only love linked us and she was to me another Mother after mine passed away.

I was very lucky having had two formidable women to serve the role of mothers, the later more of a dear friend since she did not have to raise me.  It was hard, was sad and was so final.  In a way, it was the farewell to the connection with such a dedicated generation that valued what we often forget; quiet and unspoken courage to go through life, illnesses and challenges as well as success. They made something really good and brave out of themselves and stood proud but not asking for any recognition.

We buried her on a cold, windy, gray and snowy day with a graveside ceremony.  The whole family sat in the front row under the tent fighting tears that got caught in our throat making it so hard to talk.  As her casket got lowered into the ground, Mirah, the four year old granddaughter of her daughter-in-law, walked to the grave holding her grandma's hand and dropped a card that she had made for Grandma Ruth onto the casket.  We all looked at such a miracle gesture only a four year old could do, so endearing, so meaningful and inspiring.  In a child's eyes death is not final.  The note was there to be read.  Most likely in spirit and in peace, Ruth read the final note with its colored crayons drawings and laughed.  Mirah always made her laugh!

Death has its gifts.  Being able to see so many people we had not seen in a long time and visiting with them, reviewing their memories about Ruth to add to the long store of images and words that we carry with us about her.  The rabbi at the graveside service said it so well.  "As long as you live her memories will stay with you."

So it is with all of us. The long lineage of the previous generations are stored in our heart and souls and since we cannot be born without dying, it is in a way a form of immortality.  One that is precious.

After a few days, her two sons and wives revisited the grave.  The sun shone on us but it was cold.  Steve, my husband's older brother had been generously taking complete care of Ruth's needs with his admirable wife Deana and both had done so incredibly much compared to us living here in Colorado limited by distance; only sending genuine love, making phone calls, writing notes, e-mailing and in my case, sending snail mail letters. Their grief was great but her illnesses had them prepared for her final departure. My husband was still very much in shock.

Steve read something he wrote inspired by the Lincoln museum they had visited the day before in Springfield IL and mentioned the importance of spending a lifetime reaching out and touching favorably other people. He said that not all people influence so many as Lincoln did.  But within our own circles we do. We hear it all the time.  Make a difference.  I believe that we touch many other beings that we either inspire or actually work with in life and often the difference it makes is not obvious to us, but it is present like a beacon of grace that gets passed on to others.

This chain is the never ending link that all humanity shares.  It perpetuates what humans recognize as our basic goodness and all the qualities that go with it. We are born, live and die but we live through others that come after us or around us and the beauty of it is infinite.

Steve and Mirah

Ruth and Barry

Copyright Micheline Brierre March 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fragile Strength

We contain within us a duality that is not evidently apparent.  We are both very fragile and also very strong.

At times, only the fragility is apparent and at other times the strength is overwhelming.  Where do we stand with both?

A good friend of mine was leaving a shopping mall heading for her car when suddenly she was hit by a vehicle.  A very young woman of  only eighteen was late for her work at the mall and hit her in her hurry to get to work on time.
My friend had to be taken to the hospital and checked and she ended up with broken ribs and a broken ankle.  She could not go to her work and she was home-bound and full of pain and frustration.  She felt very vulnerable and fragile.  Yet her spirits kicked in making her inner strength emerge.  She was capable of healing her wounds that were a lot more than the obvious physical damage.

She is not alone.  The earth is loaded with great examples of human beings that were hurt in their fragility but found the strength and inner power to transcend their situation and go on.

I am now being surrounded with many friends who are experiencing a very hard time.  Some have cancer, disease of some sort and some have sprained ankles, some are sick spending time in a hospital.  Lots of pain.  I witness all of that and know that only their inner power carries them beyond the body ailments.  I do feel sad when my thought goes to them and it happens often.  I feel inside me the moments of immense fragility and realize that being in a body makes us destroyable or at least susceptible to all kind of disease and accidents.  The nature of being humans.  Our mind and emotions can also trigger a full moment of fragility and utter vulnerability.  This happens more often than we want to remember.

At the same time our spirit can carry us to great height over the disease, over the discomfort or over the strain in our minds.  We do have a brain that can think or be redirected and a great ability to transcend what our body experiences.  I know having been very ill myself.

So our days are dictated by our feelings. They oscillate between either the pole of strength or our pole of mere fragility.  States that can emerge at times or can stand apart while we stand in the middle.  We are beings of fragile strength and get to deploy both emotions at all times.

Copyright 2013 Micheline Brierre