“We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled dream; it may be so the moment after death.”
Death is a scary concept. No one knows exactly what happens to us after death, and the unknown can be terribly frightening. But we all have our ideas, our hopes, or our faith about what happens after death. These thoughts are usually kept in a far corner of our minds and only pulled out when needed, but perhaps if these thoughts were shared or brought out in the sunlight more often, death wouldn't be so scary.
Last week, I lost my eldest cousin, Lynn. Lynn was a person who inspired others. She was a yoga instructor for twenty years, and she poured her passion into teaching and nurturing others. When we were children, Lynn was the eldest of the six cousins, three boys and three girls, our leader and the one who paved the way. I used to spend hours watching her, playing with the dolls she had grown out of, and so wishing I could grow up to be like her. She was wicked smart and had a funny sense of humor. The three female cousins used to go shopping with our grandma for our November birthdays; we were all born in different years but within a week of each other. I would watch as the older girls picked out clothes that were fashionable and beautiful, and I couldn't wait to be able to wear what they were wearing. But despite our age difference, Lynn never treated me like anything but an equal. She came to the very first Thanksgiving I hosted by myself and made me feel at ease when I was freaking out. We didn't get to see each other much as adults, but we always communicated during the November birthday week. It's hard to grasp that the three girls have become two in the blink of an eye.
It's always terribly difficult for those of us who are left behind. We ache for the person we have lost. Sharin, Lynn's sister, and I talked about that first moment of wakefulness in the morning, the sweet moment where the fabulous start of a new day has begun. Then in the next moment, you remember. You remember what you have lost, and the ache starts all over again. I don't know how to make that go away. I don't know how to soothe that pain and that sadness. I have no idea how to make a family complete again. There is so much I don't know, but there are some things I know for certain.
I know in my heart that Lynn has gone on. Trying to put into words how I feel about it all has been difficult. Perhaps, as Hawthorne wrote, death is like waking up after a dream, a good or a bad dream. It's the reward for what we went through in life. When the kids ask me questions about what happens after people die, I feel comfortable telling them what I believe. I believe, simply, that we are happy. We are in a place that makes us happy, be it on a beach or in the mountains or at home. We are healthy and laughing and full of joy. We can watch the sunrise and the sunset with no fatigue and nothing to distract us. The best part is that we are with the people and animals that we love. I believe that there is no such thing as the passage of time, so as people on Earth join us, it's like they have always been with us. We all fit into each other's lives perfectly and with utter joy. There is no pain, no sadness, no tragedy, and no misery. Things are simple, peaceful, and the epitome of beauty. That's exactly what I believe and exactly what I told my children. The more I think about it and talk to them about it, the more at peace I feel. And maybe that's all we can do as those left behind: we can try to feel better and be at peace.
Namaste, Lynnie. Give Grandpa and Grandma hugs from all of us, and may you forever have your sunsets.