Life and the Before and the After (11.06.13)

As human beings, we will mourn a loved one when they pass on. It's natural, we are sad that they are no longer in our lives. While natural, we must realize that it's selfish. We mourn the absence we feel in our own lives. The life they lived is something beautiful and something to be cherished. The memories we have from the intersection between their Lifeline and our own is permanent, and is never lost, even by death. The memories, the moments, the thoughts, the emotions, the revelations, those will never disappear, as long as we choose to hold on to them. These are beautiful, and often aid in our own growth as human beings.

It's never easy, of course. To even acknowledge that a loved one has moved on is a huge step on our part, as mortal, living beings. We have to understand that they will never be in this lifetime with us again. We have to understand that the lessons, the love, the understanding, and the memories that they brought to us are now finished. We then must understand that their Consciousness is in another place, in a place ours cannot yet access. This is a difficult undertaking.

Denial is always there. We want to resist. We want to scream out. We want to beg to our gods not to take our loved ones from us. But we must understand that their time is over. Not gone, not lost, and certainly not forgotten. There are some who live for short periods of time on Earth. Their lifetimes are meant to enrich someone else's, so that that person may go on to greatness. Some live longer lives. Either they have their own goal to work through, or they are a catalyst for a huge body of people.

Setting the prelude aside, I have been both cursed and graced with something remarkable. I have been sheltered, nurtured and protected from Death. Relative to the others that I know, and the average person, I know very few people who have passed on. The first person I knew who passed on was a teacher I had in Middle School. The experience was surreal. An instructor that I knew well, he was suddenly gone, without any warning. The funeral was strange. Everyone there - the people I had gone to classes with - seemed distant, as if they were very far away. It seemed as though it shouldn't be allowed to happen. I cried, of course. This man was not particularly invested nor influential in my life, but to be so close to someone whom Death claimed... it was a little unnerving. While I learned from him, the most important thing I learned was in his Passing. Death is swift, it is indeterminate, and it will take anyone at any time.

The second was a little closer to home. An old family friend, a man with many secrets. Having survived a war, this man came home to a country that did not do him the justice he deserved. I honestly believe this man, who was willing to work with our livestock, had come from a world of Black Ops. We'd ask him, interested, in what he did in the war. He'd always smile and answer with, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you." He'd laugh, then go back to what he was doing. As a kid, I thought this was funny. In hindsight, I think he was serious. In his older age, we kept in remote contact. His death was... strange. It didn't strike me at first. I got the call from my mother, letting me know. I acknowledged it, hung up, and kept driving toward my location. It was no surprise, his health was failing a long time earlier. Out of the blue, I was struck by the notion: I would never see this person again in this lifetime. I had to pull my car over, I was hit by such sorrow at the thought.

The third person was much closer to me. It was my own grandmother. This blow was softened only slightly because it was not sudden. Her health was failing her, I knew a long time out the Universe was calling her home. My tenacity runs in my family - she was stubborn. She was resisting, wanting to continue to stay on Earth as long as she could. While it wasn't as much of a surrender as it was an acquiescence, she knew. It was time. Nearly a century of changing the world, it was time to go home. Her Passing was peaceful, in her sleep. One breath in, another out... and then no more. I was surprised with how easily I handled this. Perhaps it was because it wasn't sudden. Perhaps it was because in the time between her Passing and the family friend's before her, I had come to a conclusion.

Sorry for a loved one's Passing is an entirely selfish reaction. This doesn't make it bad by any means. Our mortal forms ache for their company and regret that it is no longer with us. We miss them, want them with us. We crave their presence. At first, we cannot imagine a world without them, and then we our forced to find ourselves living in one. The most difficult task is for the Living Left Behind. Those who have Passed are back where they came from. They endure no more suffering from this life. Their bodies, either sick, aging, wounded, or any combination of the three, no longer plague them. They are back in a place where they can experience joy and happiness. They know things we cannot even begin to comprehend yet. They... are in a better place, as overused as the phrase is. We do not truly mourn them - we mourn their loss in our lives. What we must understand is that it is only temporary.

In any religion; Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Greek, even Agnostic - when the soul passes on, it goes somewhere else. The Else is determined by the religion, but it is no longer on Earth. The other souls will join it, eventually. Even in atheism, the soul no longer hurts. It simply... isn't. As will we all be.

The fourth Passing I have been for, and am living now, is that of a beloved High School teacher. While I have been out of contact with him for several years as I pursued my college goals, the things he left behind for me are concrete and withstanding. I learned from him many valuable life lessons. As a band instructor, he inspired into me a love of music that would not be there had I not met him. I acknowledge these gifts, I honor them, and I understand that his time on Earth is over. His life, I'm certain, had it's own strife. He's at peace now, and that is a good thing. The hardest thing for me to deal with is the notion that someone so influential in my life will no longer be so. Again, mourning is selfish. Not bad, but it is our own human coping mechanism. The knowledge that the person will no longer be present in this life.

The thing I have slowly, painfully learned from this process... it's only temporary. Whether you believe in one life and one soul and an afterlife, or multiple incarnations, it's the same. The soul was here, and is gone. It's job is finished, it's mortal body is done suffering. Regardless of circumstances, mortal bodies were made to suffer. We feel pain, sadness. We ache, mourn, yearn. At that moment of Passing, nothing else matters. We do not ache, we do not want, we do not mourn. It's peaceful, soft, warm, and pleasant.

It's never easy to release a Soul. We want to hang on to that person, to hold them to us. We loved them, and of course we want them in our life longer than they were. Forever, if we could. But we must realize... the things they brought into this life to teach... were taught. They brought something with them and that time is up. While hard to acknowledge that in this body we shall never see them again, we must understand, at our very core, that to have it our way would be painful to them. To wish them back into our life as they were would prolong their suffering. It's not easy, it's unfathomably difficult, but we must accept it. Their time is over. Their suffering is over. They left within us something critical to our development. We learned something either about our own spirituality, or our own humanity, or both. Something profound.

We must take the time our human bodies need to mourn, to release the sadness that we shall never see this person again. And then we must gather ourselves and our resolve, and acknowledge that something was left behind for us to gain from. Mourning a loss never does a Presence justice. To truly honor the loved one that has Left, we must take their legacy, the teaching they left behind, and live our own life to its fullest capacity in the time we are given. And then, when we have taught everything we are meant to to others and are called Home, we must try and be willing to go.

As corny as it may sound, it is true: Dying is the easy part. We release all our sorrows, all our pain, all our strife, back to the Universe. Living is the hard part. We endure this, we learn, we struggle. And we overcome. Otherwise, those that have come before to teach us would have lived their life of suffering and pain.

We are living in a moment right now. What is that moment teaching? What understanding do you need? Ask for it, it will come. Live in this moment, live for this moment, take the gifts that those before you have left and start to make your own to leave behind. We create our own legacies. What will yours be?