ANNIVERSARY TIME OF OUR SON’S PASSING
March 15, 2014
Today it has been one year since the funeral and cremation for our oldest son following his sudden and tragic death. I am raw with remembrance and seek balance and wholeness.
He made his home in Norway, a country he loved and there he died. We did not try to fly over there at the time, two of our other children did, Cameron and Mary, the cost of their airfares aided by an outpouring of community support. It was anxious waiting and grieving as we went from the shock of his death to the funeral day.
On this first anniversary morning of the funeral and cremation, it is a beautiful spring day here at the ranch. I awake at once hopeful, tearful, and distraught and do my morning exercises and eurythmy salutation (especially for those on the other side), in front of the beautiful original painting I have of Holy Mary and John, holding the body of Christ when first taken down from the cross. She is tenderly leaning over his head with abiding love, the strength of her enduring, grieving timeless, faithful heart surrounding her son. The glow of his golden resurrecting heart is reflected back on her countenance. I have told a friend that after years of doing work with death and dying I should not have been surprised that the “Pieta’ experience would come to me in my life as it has for so many mothers throughout time.
We have a small balcony off the bedroom and I step out to feel the morning, the healing sun and wind on my face, the breeze through the oaks and pines. Just at that very moment, one of our black cows comes trotting by on the road, and behind her is a little red calf. The first calf for this year. I audibly sigh the mother cow’s name,”Oh, Tippy.” She is named for the white brush of her tail. She brings us this sign of new life, her calf is like a red glow shining against her jet black side, skipping along , nurtured and safe in the invisible circle of the embracing mother’s bond.
I put on my son’s shirt for this day, one my oldest daughter had saved from the trash where Gary had left it in his last visit here. It is a pale blue and white fine striped work shirt he had given up after building a new gate for her at her home. The threshold… a gate from one side to the next. Little did we know it would be one of his last acts here for us.
He was a Master builder, brilliant and generous in his creativity at every level, and leaving a legacy of finely built homes, and a family of five children, mostly grown. Today is his oldest daughter’s birthday. He also left a legacy of having endured an entire adulthood of illness; Hepatitis C from blood transfusions during cancer surgery as a young man, then when that was conquered after twenty years, a critical heart valve replacement, (a metal one because he was young), and a pace maker. These devices haunted him with their passionless and uniform mechanical ticking and battery driven heart beat. He’d joke about it, but when standing close to him, our heads laid close to his heart, we could hear it too. Through all his adult life he worked with super human strength to build homes and provide for his family. Despite his suffering, the aura and energy he gave to the world was one of light hearted optimism, always lifting the social mood around him to levity, and encouraging others to lighten up and not to take oneself too seriously. He was the master of practical jokes, his huge grin was irresistible, you just couldn’t get mad at him despite his mischief.
There are seer friends who have given a deeper view and insight into my last year. One described that first week after Gary’s death as a time when he not only was in a new state just having gone across the threshold, but the outpouring of grief, shock, rage and love at his going from those left behind was threatening to overwhelm him and hinder the sheltering love he would want to send back to to his family.
It was then, so they told me, he sought refuge with the mother, with me, to center, get his bearings, back to home base, the mother’s heart, the origin place of love and safety. For that is what mother’s do. I was staggering to carry it all as best I could through that week, longing for revelation of a higher meaning in it all. The seer further explained that in taking in his suffering then, an imprint was made on my life body, my strength and vitality, and this would be a factor in bringing about my own heart issues five months later. Certainly I had my own health situation but it was deepened by taking this on, too. But that is what mothers do.
We carry our children in our womb, giving them life from our creative bodily substance, hold them in our hearts and in our arms, and through all the outer difficulties, hold the picture of them in their higher self, their true being, just as Mother Mary did when her son was scorned, vilified and crucified. Keep the faith. That is what mothers do. How could we do otherwise, or even think of not being there for our children? Creating safety, providing the genesis chalice of their bodily creation, this and unconditional love, we are privileged to do all this for our children. Without such mother deeds, human life as we know it will not go on.
So here at White Feather Ranch, the new calf brightened the anniversary morning for us and we took a ride in our ancient, rattling, jeep, bouncing out across the eighty acres of land, enjoying the green hills alive with the promise of spring everywhere and checking on the other cattle. A great blue heron flew and circled near us, Out at the dove cage, a new white dove held forth. A year ago, our sole white dove, a female, had sat alone and quiet while I stood in an hour’s meditation before the rising sun, trembling before this funeral and cremation day. Looking from that rising sun and back to her quiet white body, I was surprised and comforted as a rosy magenta color settled over her wings, an after image created in my eyes by looking from the rising sun, the back to the aura that rested upon her. At the time, I imagined the rosy color a mother’s love, invisible, embracing, a mantle of life giving warmth. That dove remained with us until I had my heart surgery, the same surgery as my son’s, and then she disappeared.
Now a new white dove is there, a male this time, his dark bright eye is filled with a spark of purpose and confidence as he parades and displays his snow white handsomeness while wooing a lady dove. New life.. new vigor. new energy in the service of new life.
On that day, a year past, I knew the cremation time was of critical importance. I had an offering to go into the fire here at the same time his body would, an offering of magenta pink silk, fragrant cedar boughs saved from our Christmas tree, photos, a white feather.
It was nearly unbearable, the anxious tension waiting to hear from Cameron and Mary at the crematorium half way around the world in Norway. At last the call came, they were there and ready to begin the process. I called out for them to wait until we could make the offering here at the same moment. I then gave the word (relayed by our youngest son on the phone to them) my command of “Now!” signaling the moment our son’s body would be consecrated back to the elements. Intense. Gut wrenching. Inevitable. A life cycle completed. The conclusion of a life on this earth. Finality.
Our youngest son, Colin, a eurythmist and I did the verse ‘Victorious Spirit’ before the leaping flames in our fireplace here at home. Then at the request of his father and me, he played uplifting tunes and lilting improvisations on the piano during the process to soothe our anguished souls.
Gary had often joked in life he wanted to cremated on a Viking funeral pyre or a wooden ship at sea. It turns out the state of the art crematorium where it did occur was built upon old Viking funeral pyres from long ago, the fired porcelain sharp bone chips found there dated back 2000 years.
My husband and I make a rich and tasteful lunch and eat out on the deck and listen to the doves cooing. We honor ourselves as parents of a very remarkable man that we so poignantly miss. Glancing down we see right by the door, the threshold again, a large millipede lying curled and lifeless. An odd unexplainable sign but it is like a small dragon, a picture of the dark forces our son has overcome in his passing. Courage was always a strong point for Gary. Beside us grow roses, their buds newly formed and poised to open in their fragrant glory, heirloom Castilian roses, like those from the time of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe who gave roses to bloom forever in the heart of humble Juan Diego, and he to carry the picture of her, radiant in sun rays, on his peasant’s garment. That centuries old icon in Mexico is still giving comfort to millions of yearning pilgrims.
This day has a sunrise and sunset, like all others. We are here, alive, therefore anointed with the God given blessing of living, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, ‘human merely being lifted from the no of all nothing’, (as poet e e cummings writes,) being human, and having a chance to create love and choose the life and attitudes and energies we leave in our wake to affect others and nature alike.
The blessed environment of beauty, nature and life supports us with the outpouring of God’s creative love, Mary/Sophia’s enduring wellspring of warmth and Life and a community of caring friends. Life goes on.
Nancy Jewel Poer, March 15, 2014