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Life and Death in Everything

I sit in the faded red rocking chair, feeling the sun hot upon my skin, the slightest breeze just easing the heat. I'm grieving the impending loss of a friend, she's dying in a bed and hasn't let go quite yet but my pain feels the same. A gardener is tending the neighbours yard, oblivious to my sadness, he is mowing the lawn and weed whacking for what seems like hours. Jarring experiences competing all at once, this is life. And it exists all at once.

The gardener can't know of my pounding headache from crying, my sadness and pain swallowing me up. Just as I can't know what he might be thinking or feeling as he goes about his work. All of it matters and all of it collides all day, everyday. This is life.

There is suffering and heart-bursting gladness, there is unfathomable tragedy and happy magic. It's all of the same making, it is life in its essence. One not more important than the other, all clattering along the same track. Life and death in everything.

I am at once consumed by sadness of the void I will feel without my dear friend and restored by gratitude of the joy I felt in knowing her. I am both so sad and angry about her passing, another friend lost much too soon, and thinking about what movie to pick with the girls tonight.

Because it's movie night in my family. I will tell my girls of our friends passing, she was with each of them as the tiniest babes, and they too will feel that deep abyss of sadness. We will all cry, we will all hold one another. We will all ache for her kids, losing their momma. And then we'll feel hungry, we'll need to stretch our bodies. We'll look up to the sky and feel how the web of existence is tenuous and abiding all at once. And we'll make super buttery popcorn and enjoy one another cuddled up on my bed. Not because of our sadness but because it's life and living is what it's meant for. Sadness is a part of it.

It is all too much at times. I think of how right now I'm backed into a corner so tight I'm not sure how to move an inch forward. I'm sinking under a life I've created that I can't sustain. So I'm creating ideas, I'm being a willing participant to life, I'm showing up with my arms open saying "ok, what's next then?". And simultaneously I'm feeling how trite all of that is -- what is a home, a job, meaningful work, money in the bank when there isn't life to hold it all?

What matters?

It all does. Facets, that word. If you imagine it on a gem, all of its many sides, all of it making the splendour of the gem itself. None of it in isolation, it's all one.

I understand darkness more than I ever have before. With friends passing too young, friends who have lost babies, losing houses, savings, jobs. A world that has been deeply divided and systems that seem to be falling apart. It feels so scary, so treacherous. But darkness is needed too - it beckons restorative slumber, it allows for the seed to burst and unfurl, for each human life to grow comfortably in the womb. And then we move towards the light.

It's quiet outside now, the lawn care now done. I've had a customer to the shop, someone I haven't seen for years but love. A crack of light showing me that our lives are good, friends leave and friends come back. The sun is highlighting the brilliance of the green grass, the birds are chirping gladly and tending their nests. I could never measure the beauty of the spring flowers that have burst forth after the barren, dark winter. The intrinsic nature of life, a scale balancing between dark and light, both inevitable, both integral.

It's our ability to love no matter what, we have an immense capacity for love that can never end. We think life is the hero, death is the enemy - they are of the same cloth. It's our innate power to love through all of it, the whole journey, the wild ride, the ups and downs, the high highs and lowest lows. It is all one, as we are. Our collective experience, our empathic qualities.

Love endures.

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