I forget each year how cold cold is! Today in Bend the temperature is in the low 30's and the sky is gray. Autumn colors offset the somber skies. Crabapples litter the lawn and their tart odor carries me back to childhood. Memories of Dad raking leaves and us kids leaping into the huge pile and burying ourselves in the rich smell of Fall.
My Dad died a couple of months ago. Vascular dementia shut his systems down very slowly. It felt like watching a giant redwood leaning its weight toward the earth until finally the momentum has its way and the tree thuds to the ground. The sound resonates through the woods just as my Dad's death physically resonated in my own body. A slow heavy sensation, not uncomfortable, but noticeable in the impact on my speed of doing, like moving through thick mud. I appreciate the timelessness of those weeks following his passing.
Losing a parent, no matter what the relationship, because of the biological inheritance, offers a unique experience of loss. We all have so many losses any given day, small or sharp, significant or bittersweet. Watching the loss of my father's stern dignity in the last few years of his dementia was a reminder of the impermanence of the identity I easily take for granted. But when Awareness looks through my eyes in the deep silence of stillness, it becomes easier to realize the ultimate impossibility of this separate self of me. The connection to the falling leaves, to other beings, to the cold, to the light, feels tangible and true. Death and loss lose their boundaries and can be seen as integral to life. If I look closely, carefully and truthfully, I can see how "I" am embedded in everything around me, and vice versa. May we all sit quietly with our losses, breathe deeply the pungent air, and relax into the only reality we ever have, NOW!