“There are people dying…”
As i am in the middle of doing some seasonal cleaning, i turn up the volume of Heal The World– it’s a song i go to when i look for that peaceful space, musically. It’s the same space i enter, when listening to Earth Wind & Fire, or Pharaoh Sanders… There have been times the teacher’s song has been bittersweet; there have been times the song has given me pure joy. At this point though, it has given me a strange peace.
“There are people dying…” Beings die every single day on this earth. It has been said an average of two people die per second. This is the one commonality we share, as humans. This commonality does not make it easier when we are affected by it. One thing i have found helpful though, is to use whatever grieving periods i’ve experienced, and learn from them…. To stand on the shoulders of those who have come before me. To recognize the potentials of healing and spiritual growth through grieving.
As i listen to Heal The World i remember a dear one who recently departed a couple of weeks ago: Aunt Judy. Indeed, she was not an aunt by blood, but a woman who was family. A woman who was enveloped in illness in the many years i’ve known her, but she never let illness dictate how she lived her life. She was one of the strongest people i’ve ever met. She did not merely, as teacher Michael sang in his healing song, exist… She LIVED. Just as she had many people in the community who looked out for her, there were others who saw her as a pariah, and chose to call the police. They chose not to acknowledge her humanity, merely because she did not cater to the sentiments of gentrification. They chose to look past her, simply because she asked them for money for something to eat, and slept in the streets. She certainly was not perfect: she had a few choice words for people, especially if they disrespected her. She also did not hesitate to show your respect in return, if you showed her some. The neighborhood she roamed, she watched like a hawk. She watched your cars, your bicycles, your dog friends, when you needed to step quickly to the store to buy something. She commented on how the babies of the neighborhood have now grown into toddlers…
She always had family and friends nearby; she always had a place to stay (and sometimes she did stay at those places); but she chose to be an ‘angel’ watching the streets, as the angels walked with her- she always sang a song saying as much, her beautiful voice resonating for blocks on end. Either at 2pm or 2am, she never hesitated to slowly roam on the sidewalks, “Walking with (her) angels”. This is about impermanence- not just with humans, but with neighborhoods. Judy’s transition is also the transition of a certain community connection that will no longer exist, so she spent her short time on Earth forging the last vestiges of that connection. There were many who worried, but she always knew she was going to be alright. She knew she would not be here forever, even though somehow for many, it was thought she would outlast the rest of us. This was made even clearer at her memorial service.
When i entered the church, the pastor was speaking of forgiveness. The casket was closed. i kept thinking of how large Judy’s community (family and friends alike) was, and how much she was loved. There were a couple of times, as the pastor was speaking, i almost cried, thinking of Judy. As the service was coming to a close the casket was being opened, and i lost it. Someone behind me handed me a tissue, and it was not until after the service i discovered there were friends sitting behind me, one of which handed me the tissue.
i don’t like the word ‘funeral’… Funerals take us to this dark place, where we only focus on death, or the end of our connection with those we love. We even wear black as a mourning color. For me, a ‘homegoing ceremony’ or (to a lesser extent) ‘memorial’ is more indicative of a celebration of one’s life, and our coming together under that commonality. Most importantly, it’s a way to honor the natural transition we all must go through. All we are doing is entering another dimension of consciousness. These modes of consciousness don’t care for the color of our garments. And besides that, i prefer the color white (which represents peace) when we honor those who have traveled to the ancestors. i had a few good cries for Aunt Judy, then somehow, i felt a sudden peace. i knew she would not want us to feel pain for her, as she was no longer in pain, for she was with her angels.
This is the same peace i feel, listening to Heal The World– a peace i hadn’t felt before. In all the sadness i’ve felt for so long after teacher Michael’s transition, it was not until recently where i felt at peace with his departure. It was a peace still disturbed by bits of sadness, in knowing he was not at peace in his life. As i listened, i was sure he was alright, and i had no need to worry. i also felt the same peace for Prince Rogers Nelson, who very much publicly declared that his transition should never be a period of mourning.
It is very possible the ancestors (of which Michael is now included) were declaring that Michael is indeed, now truly at peace. When i heard this message coming through the song, i felt happy. As i am in the process of clearing my physical space, the ancestors were able to find a moment to send messages of love, the same love i never regretted to tell Judy i had for her (along with hugs), and the same love and appreciation i have for Michael, being the sort of teacher words could not particularly always convey.