Anjana Eve (or Love in a Time of Grief)

Every year since I was 30, I’ve celebrated three days for my birthday. When I married Raymond, being only 4 days apart, we combined parties, but the Feast Days of Anjana remained separate, something of my own, created for very personal reasons.
This year there’s no joy in my heart and I’ve been struggling to connect to things that once brought me pleasure. And then I remembered why I started the three day ritual, and why I always try to note the birthdays of others, even people I’ve never met:
We matter. It is a privilege to be born in a body and life that allows us the opportunity to evolve and become fully human. To have senses, thoughts, and emotions, and to experience Life in all of its beauty, pain, stupidity, and joy. To be complex and simple, humble and arrogant.

Ray taught me to see life from the end and not to get too caught up in the daily things that change our moods. One of his favorite movies was “La Familia” with Jimmy Smits, because in the end, after a life of struggle, it was all good. He believed that in the core of his being. That even when the struggle was long, things would work out and that it was good to be alive.

Ray and I were opposites in many ways. I’ve been in existential crisis since I was two; Ray seldom struggled in that way and rarely had a depressing thought. He regretted that he’d not been materially more successful, but only in order to have been able to do more for his children and me. His only other regret was that he’d ever caused pain to others. But he never indulged in regret: he acknowledged it and stayed present to his reality and did what he could to help anybody he could. Some remained in his shadow self, but he left those parts alone, walking with just a trace of sadness that was hard to see from the outside.

I think we brought some balance to each other’s lives and I’ll do my best to keep his perspective in my heart and combine it with my own so that when I pull the camera back I can see that Life is good and we are worthy of celebration. I’ll no doubt continue to agonize over the ways of the folk and ruminate over ethical issues that may be of little import beyond my own concern, but I will insert enough of his philosophy to keep perspective and return to balance, because he was right: Life is indeed good.
Happy Anjana Eve to me and from me to you❣️

The Real

Sun will still rise, winds blow, children laugh, but it will never be quite the same.

People really need to learn how to talk about death.
On many different levels. It’s inevitable: sit with it.

It’s a painful, but 100% accurate teacher that will show you yourself and the truth of every relationship you have. What’s particularly cruel is that the test will come before the lessons.

Best come at least somewhat prepared because denial and lies will not help you.

I’ve never had a problem talking about death and am not bottled up now, but SO many people can’t even approach the subject or they block it’s reality with trite sayings learned by rote.
My Goddaughter, Kibra, said it well: “It’s a profound experience and people feel that they should say something profound but they’re really not up to the task.”

Nearly half the people I know have no will or insurance. They most certainly have no ability to hold a conversation, much less comfort or advise someone in grief. Part of the problem is that in the US, few people live with multiple generations and people don’t often die at home. The outsourcing of the elder care and “the medicalization of death put those realities at a remove from life” (Rebecca Karl) and the entire progression of life and it’s inevitable realities are problematized in ways that are ultimately antisocial and dehumanizing.

This is another area where our healthcare systems fail miserably, and because people are so afraid of the subject, they don’t recognize the importance of fighting for a national healthcare system that would support at-home care as long as is feasible, as well as the handling of death and its after effects in a respectful, cost effective manner that would reacquaint families with a basic understanding of the process, which in turn might help grow genuine compassion, empathy, and grace in us all.

Death doulas are one immediate source of knowledge, but not accessible to all. Our fear of death and our inability to have these conversations is where it must begin. We must mature as a society and find kinder ways to deal with our problems, because I can assure you, Death, as a reality and metaphysics, is not going away.

Thus endeth the lesson.