Baptize my soul
in a river of gold
so I can be bold
while old I grow.
I can glisten all
with a sheen tall
gold will enthral;
but dignity falls.
In a river I save,
before my grave,
a soul to behave
in all of my ways.
I pretend a lamb
but in me I still am
a beast who awaits
this empty night
I do not quiz strife
in my empty life.
Cold I’ve become
I know not some
of how is undone
a light from sun.
Stagnant I’ll be
now that I see
my passion leave
as time I bleed.
I accept my fate
as days role by late;
the end it is cold
so I coldly wait.
* I wrote this years ago. This picture as well has a few years on it. I find myself now in a better place emotionally. The inevitable reality of existence is that we can not live forever.
I recently lost my grandmother. I have been very lucky to have had her in my life for as long as she had been. Before her death I lost my grandfather, her husband whom both were my father’s parents. I also have lost my grandfather on my mother’s side of the family.
Losing Mama Jo, my grandmother, was a very different experience for me. For one I saw her almost every other day. This was due to her living extremely close. So indeed we were both extremely close. I didn’t just see her as my grandmother. I saw her as a friend.
Secondly, but most importantly, she was a tender person. Her death has ushered in a different dynamic in my whole family.
This previous poem I wrote was years before I had lost any of my grandparents. I have revisited it with a little reticence. I find myself asking, ‘What really matters in this life?’ Of course the answer is the relationships we build between ourselves. Well, at least that is what my opinion is.
I don’t want to bore you with some lofty ooey gooey sentiments this evening. I know that is probably what is expected from me at this point. I want to express that since I have lost not just my grandmother but also a friend, my perspective about death has both changed in some ways and in others not so much.
This life is cold. Death does not discriminate. Death has no political affiliation. Death doesn’t care about the privileged nor the most needy. It knows no social status. It knows no Facebook status to boot either.
Yet we do. That is the way we live our lives. We place value on everything that impacts our lives. Personally I can say I have devalued death. I never wanted to really think about it. Living a life not thinking about death allows us to live without fear. That doesn’t mean that I don’t fear death though. I do.
More so now that I have lost my sweet grandmother. Since the loss I have developed a deep fear that wasn’t that prevalent in me before. Which is the fear of loosing my loved ones. The idea I simply refused to think about before.
I have been very cold in my life sometimes about certain topics because this life is cold. Yet that doesn’t mean we have to be cold between ourselves. I admit I have been cold to other people. And it hurts me to my core with regret.
Because we need to celebrate life with joy and laughter. But we also must not let ourselves live in some juvenile nonsense. Sometimes I can be pretty juvenile. I’ve been spoiled in life by being able to have everyone in my family as close as they have been to me.
Yet as I have previously mentioned my family dynamic has changed. When my grandparents were alive we use to all get together for Thanksgiving. This year we did not. And it is weighing down on me to be quite frank. I found myself asking why do we all have anything to do with one another now.
There are some fierce conservatives in my family. As well as some fierce liberals. I being the later. Yet oddly enough my fierce liberal sister led me to a revelation recently that I hope to keep at the forefront of my mind more often.
One example of my cynicism I have had is with a cousin with whom I’ve quarelled politically with. My sister had found and scanned a mile high tower of family pictures after MaMa Jo passed.
Shortly after her find she started a chain text message with all our cousins. In it she sent photos of us all together as a family. Then all of a sudden all my cousins started chiming in and reminiscing. We laughed and quite objectively we all can be really funny and fun people. It was a very healing moment for me. And I love that my sister did what she did.
Because now I have been able to heal emotionally from the loss of Mama Jo. I realize not many people have a big family. I realize I am spoiled. I realize what years ago this picture of me said. You see, at the time I took this picture I was in a very dark place. It was in that dark place where I had conflict with my cousin. It was a riff that left me feeling alienated from a large side of my family. I had become cynical about life and unforgiving because of it and other events in my life.
Yet during the text chain I was able to speak for the first time with that said cousin with whom I had friction with. I realized that in death there is an opportunity this life has given us that is very hard for some people to do. Especially now a days.
In grief there is an opportunity to heal if we as people can do a very mature thing. That is to forgive. It is a sad truth that people judge us and we judge other people everyday whether we want to admit it or not. But to put aside these judgements and laugh together, to find a levity with one another is a very powerful way to bond.
Today we as living beings do very little bonding anymore. Life is pain. Life is cold and has no preference for the tender hearted. It doesn’t mean we must be cold but rather we must be mature and constructive in the face of that which would bring us to our knees indiscriminately.
All feel pain. All feel hurt. All people can be cheated and marginalized. And yes, all people can be loved. No matter how hard that seems to be at times. Love is kind and love is learning to forgive one another. I have judged and I have also had to learn to forgive. Forgiveness was harder to learn. Yet I have learned that without forgiveness we would be lost and humanity would fail.
That being said there are some people we should not forgive. Sometimes forgiveness is left in the hands of our creator or whatever there is out there in the universe that sees us from afar.
I am so happy I was able to put all my judgement aside and remember the good parts of life I had with some people in my family. The parts that are tender bring rest to those weary with pain, hurt and anger.
I learned a very important lesson from my grandmother’s death. That being that to forgive is truly divine, that being tender is important but that we all have a common purpose. Being cold about life is understandable but uplifting each other in forgiveness has far more value.