The Answer to Everything Is…

11888017_1121560854525404_1295640164204850920_n

It’s been a hard week here. It started out with calling 911 on Sunday because the baby was choking on something she picked up off the floor. It took a visit to the ER and several panicky hours to figure out she had a small piece of thick plastic lodged in her throat that the Doctor was finally able to remove. On top of that, several of my closest friends have been dealing with life-threatening illnesses for themselves or their kiddos, so basically my heart has been walking around outside my body all week feeling the ache of lack of protection and acute vulnerability.

I tend to get mad when things like this happen. I have a strict Don’t Mess With My Loved Ones policy that the Universe does not seem to adhere to. Dangit. I also really don’t like being such a sensitive BIG feeling soul when my lovelies are hurting, and I really don’t like it when all my lovelies are hurting at once. That is just about unbearable.

But, you and I both know I’ve walked this road a million times before. I am a self-certified Tragedy Specialist. So, sitting in the discomfort of vulnerability today, watching my lovelies suffer, I just had to find a little compassion within and tell myself this:

Ok, Megan, here we go. You know what’s happening. The squeeze is on. You’re being ground and twisted and wrung to a fresh pulp yet again…so what will you do different this time, knowing what’s on the other side of this pain is the promise of LOVE, beauty and immense wisdom? Knowing you’re going to come out of this a sweet, sweet cherry-limeade, ripe with empathy and love?

Here’s what I think I’ve figured out about all of this.

Anything…ANYTHING can be made bearable if you surround it with enough LOVE.

Francine Wheeler, Mother to 5-year-old Ben, who was one of the Sandy Hook victims, said someone told her after her son’s death that there would always be a hole in her heart. BUT, if she surrounded it with enough love, that love would build a protective coating around the hole that would eventually make it possible to live with a Swiss cheese heart.

So here’s my answer to everything, I think:
FEED IT MORE LOVE.

Whatever is broken or hurting or vulnerable or quaking in your heart, whatever your holes are, your aches, your dreams, your losses…feed them more love til there’s so much love around them, it doesn’t hurt as much anymore.

In the darkest depths of pain, loss and grief, LOVE is always possible. In the uncertainty of fear and unknowingness on the life to your dreams, MORE LOVE is always possible. When someone has hurt you or betrayed you, MORE LOVE for yourself and for them is always possible…because if we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive others…when we realize EVERYONE’S always doing their best.

When you are scared, feed yourself more love. When you are sad, feed yourself more love. When your lovelies are aching, feed yourself more love…so then you can overflow onto them when they need it most.

Yup, more love, more love might be the answer to everything. 

Are you following me on Facebook? This post was shared on my Writer’s Page over there today. I often post brief musings on Facebook that I don’t post here, so run on over and click like if you want to hear more of my thoughts on life, love, tragedy & everything in between. 🙂 

Half-Dead Or Alive

IMG_0003Tragedy can turn you into stone – it can make you fold up your wings and hide within their warm embrace.

It’s a choice, and one that requires more courage than can possibly be put into words, to unfold your wings again, when they’ve been clipped, wounded, torched and tormented, time after time.

It has been my life’s challenge to unfold.

A year ago, I was pregnant with my third child – a walking dead, half-alive corpse of myself. 4 years of tragedy, 20 deaths, and the loss of everything ten times over, had singed and scarred my wings so acutely, I simply wanted to crawl into a shallow grave and stay there where no one could see me.

I wasn’t even trying to avoid life, I had just kind of shut myself off without meaning to, like I’d gone into auto-pilot. I was looking around me at other people celebrating birthdays and vacations, just enjoying life, and thinking to myself, “Why don’t I want that?” Everything had become so hard, it just didn’t seem worth it to even try to create joy anymore. Continue reading

You Are Now Entering the “Spring” of Your Life

flower-rain-low-resThis morning, I was watering my rose bushes that have been a little neglected the last few weeks. They were starting to look a little brown and dingy, so I had to pay attention to them.

As I was hosing them down, I started aiming the spray at the dead leaves to help them fall off, and encourage growth and renewal.

As nature always speaks to me, I had a little ah-ha moment.

The rains and winds of our life are not to be cursed. 

Like a storm on a dying vine, they simply rid us of the parts of ourselves that are dead, unnecessary, broken, or browning.

Then, the parts of us that are alive and green can soak up more of the water to nourish and feed our souls, speeding our growth and renewal.

Nature does not curse the cycle of life playing out in the Arizona monsoons each summer. In fact, nature welcomes this renewal. Trees green more deeply into more poignant hues after a storm. Rainbows bow and arch over majestic landscapes in the slant of sun and storm. Thirsty flowers unfold and open in the light following a heavy rain, welcoming the energy of the light. 

If you have been through a difficult time in your life, and felt the pummeling of rain, wind, sand and sleet on your shoulders, wondering how you would make it through your own perfect storm, remember this:

The greenest parts of your soul have just been watered, and I promise you, now, you are entering the Spring of your life. All you have to do, is choose to open up, and unfold.*

A Different Kind of Near-Death Experience

He reminded me to use my voice…so I did, for him. ~ Christopher Lane’s Memorial Service 8/25/12 ~ Photo borrowed from Christopher’s Facebook page

I thought I was doing fine, since the Memorial. I doused that place in a good storm puddle of my own tears on Saturday, and I guess I thought that’d do me for awhile.

But, today, it came back. Listening to this haunting, powerful, poignant, bomb-hitting-your-house sort of poem of Christopher’s. I’ve never heard anything like it in my life. I hadn’t heard it before he died.  The first time I heard it was at the Memorial – so now, hearing his voice is like putting a stethoscope to a grave and catching the waves of a heartbeat.

His death has done so much to shake me up. I’m writing again…because he died. I’m unfolding my scared petals again…because he died. 

I often think, who am I to be so affected by his death? I can’t even begin to comprehend his family’s pain, his wife’s sickening grief.

And here I am, grief-stricken in my own way…but I’m figuring something out about myself.

I have chosen to put myself deep in the potholes on this road, right in the path of death’s river – because of something a bereaved parent, whose 15-year-old daughter passed away, said to me the other day.

piku / stock.xchng

“It is not ours to understand the ebb and flow of life and death…impossible in a dualistic, egoic body. I know grief…losing a child is my awakening to the Unknown. I do know that there is something that is called ‘Mystery’ that knows the way to understanding if we are just willing to not tell a story of it being any different than what it is.”

She went on to say, “It is strange, but loss of this kind, if embraced, is truly the way of accessing something deep within us that would have never broken open.”

I could have distanced myself from many of these deaths. The night my Aunt died, I could have spared myself seeing her die. I could’ve stayed at home, not brought my Grandmother to say goodbye to her daughter, and just had a phone call to feel, rather than the aroma of death itself to haunt me. With many of the deaths since, I could’ve missed out on the last moments – I had all the best excuses in the world, but instead, I put myself right there, at death bed after death bed, for my own unique “near-death experiences.”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Near-Death Experiences, but in a different way than most. More and more people are coming forward, sharing the depths of wisdom to be seeped out of NDE’s.

I have been having my own NDE’s. Although I’ve never died and come back to tell the tale, I have been “near-death,” as in at its bedside, at its feet, in its hours and weeks and months preceding, in its final moments, in its post-mortem rituals, in its mortuaries, crematories, graveyards, obituaries and Memorials – too many times to count now.

I have meditated at the bedside of agony. I have whispered to the dying. I have sang a Hallelujah chorus’ into Heaven for a Christian. I have held Shiva for a Jew. I have felt the arm of my dying Grandmother on my shoulder from the other side. I have conversed with old friends in my wakeful dreams.

These “near-death experiences” have been my awakenings, as the death of her daughter was my friend’s awakening. They have thinned the veil between life and death, scooped out my soul into a cavernous, porous, eager opening, and reminded me of Who I Really Am, again and again.

Memorial services have become my platform (bet you won’t see that on Ms. America’s docket!) – the place where I, melted down to my purest form of Being, pour out ladles of unencumbered truth, transparency, heart and wisdom I could only have reached in the soils of grief.

And so, today, as I shouldered my bathroom wall like a dear friend, weeping into its arms at the loss of Christopher once again, I find I’m not grieving in this hopeless, senseless, aching, depressed sense of old. I’m just grieving. Grief does not have to bear merely negative connotations. It can bear that ‘Mystery’ – that opening to the divine – if we let it.

I trust that Christopher is still with us. I’m confused, and still trying to wrap my head around the “story” of his death – his young age, good health, lack of explanation for his death, and his beautiful family left behind. But, I know he is still with me, and I am at peace with his death, because I can feel him conveying that message to me from within. Still, it hurts, though, still I ache, and this is par for the course, no matter how much I’ve faced death, how “at peace” I am with it, how enlightened I may or may not be.

For the last three years, I’ve often been afraid to share how I feel, like I’m doing right now…so afraid you were so sick of hearing it again, and again. Sometimes, I post on here, or Facebook, and feel like I can hear my friends’ moans, “Another death for Megan? Oh geez.” I think those are my own insecurities. In truth, I know few people who would feel anything but empathy for the profound prickers of pain I’ve been picking out of my knees lately.

I’m realizing now, that I am who I am for a reason. There is no one like me. Only I have had these experiences, and only I have handled them through this filter of “Megan,” the girl who loves hard, feels deeply, bears her soul honestly, and thus…experiences loss on a profound level, folding in the petals in grief, but opening them again and again each Spring.

So, I’m not apologizing for who I am anymore. These experiences have shaped me and taught me Masters-degrees of wisdom. I may grieve but that doesn’t mean I am “depressed” or that anything is wrong with me at all. It’s just a process, one that is required of, and owed to the honor of every soul we lose in this lifetime.

My NDE’s have given me so much to share…and while the “stories” we tell ourselves usually bear only negative connotations to death, dying and grief, I believe I am living proof that opening ourselves completely to the great mysteries of Life and Death, bears promise in either direction. Why should we embrace one, and shun the other? Both are part of our experience. Grief deserves time, attention, honor and embracing, and a willingness to sit at death’s bedside – to embrace the loss experiences in our lives – while painful, can also give us a glimpse of “Heaven,” the one that we find glowing within, when we, like statues, are broken open.

“What, Where, Who Have You Helped Today?!”

“Christopher’s Legacy”

Written 8-26-12

Last night, I attended the Memorial Service for Christopher Ya’ir Lane, one of probably a couple hundred people who attended.

The service began around five and didn’t end until after 8. There were so many souls, who were given a voice by Christopher, or reminded to use their voice in his care, and so they did use their voices last night in his honor.

I could almost feel Christopher standing over each one as they spoke, validating their voices, as he always did, pulling up a chair in the audience to give a resounding applause at their efforts, great or small, nodding at the MC, “Just one more…” after the twentieth, or thirtieth person spoke. He would’ve wanted every one of them to speak, to give gifts of words that birthed in their hearts and burned in the flames of grief and remembrance.

A strange sense of peace filled the air of Oak Creek Canyon, under the sycamores, as the candlelight bloomed glowing branches of remembrance to light our words at the mic. I didn’t expect peace, in a space filled with hearts ajar and open, salt still mincing into fresh wounds.

This loss was so sudden and tragic, so immense and far-reaching – as one woman said, “A man stopped me today and said, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.”

She replied, perplexed, “Who, me?!’”

The man continued, “Yes, you’re an artist in Sedona, right? Then you knew Christopher Lane? I’m from Albuquerque and we all knew Christopher Lane there.’”

The night began with songs and friendship, and then Christopher’s beautiful wife, Akasha, took the mic. We all held our breath a little, waiting to exhale at the sight of her – what would she say, how could she speak? Here, the counterpart of a conspicuous, vociferous beauty – just as breath-taking in her shyness, and the quivering pauses between her phrases. She struggled to find any words fitting of a man who spit them with fire and eloquence, power and purpose, but her words were perfect.

She began by sharing a drawing and letter Christopher’s 8-year-old son wrote for him…Daddy, I miss you, what was wrong with you, I wish I could just give you a hug, I wish you could still read me stories before bed.

That letter was the hardest thing I’ve ever heard in my life.

As she read, I glanced at my husband, who knew Christopher much more as an acquaintance then a friend, and saw his eyes overflowing with tears. I thought of our two beautiful children, and the one blooming in my belly.

Then Akasha began to speak about her husband. Her words came in waves, and after each sentence, she inhaled and exhaled long deep, shivering breaths…

“This doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream, or a movie.”

“I can just hear Christopher now, ‘So I had to die for you to finally get on a mic?!’” We all laughed.

Then, she continued, “God, I was so lucky to be married to him. I knew him 10 years and nine months, and I was a princess for every one of those moments.”

She spoke of what a doting father he was, and really, he was. There are few men in the world like him, that open up the Pandora’s Box of the world for their children daily, conveying magic and mystery in the mundane, parenting through powerful grace, gentle devotion, and quiet strength.

Every word she spoke made me think of my own husband, because every word she spoke could also be true of him. He lives his life for the kids and I. He adores our children, and would hurdle planets and platoons to bring back any small piece of Heaven on Earth for us. He’s a Christopher sort of Daddy in his own way, and I have always been thankful for this, growing up with a Dad who provided more financial strength, then emotional.

Every one of Akasha’s words will stay lit like a flame in the window of my soul. But, this sentence stayed with me the most.

“I loved you so much, Christopher,” she said. “And if I could go back, I would’ve loved you even more.”

And if I could go back, I would’ve loved you even more.

For Kory & I, 15 deaths in 3 years has certainly been enough to make us cling to each other like jellyfish on a surfer’s leg. It’s certainly been enough to singe indelible impressions on our hearts, marking the fragility of life. We’ve attended Memorials for children, friends, grandparents, aunts, second Mothers, second Fathers – and with every one, we’ve been painfully reminded, in fact, drenched in an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness for what we have. We know better than most, how quickly things can change. I know regret in so many ways, I’m like a diamond expert explaining the 4 C’s – cut, clarity, carat and colors – of regret.

Akasha’s words made me grip my husbands fingers in mine tighter still though, and vow to myself – in memory of Christopher, in honor of a love that gave her power to stand at that microphone he had owned with such exuberance, after losing the love of her life –  to love my husband, my children, my anyone…more.

I’ve made an invisible list in my mind of how many different ways I want to live my life as a small tribute to him. I figure, if I could be half the human being he was in my lifetime, I’d be doing ok.

The words from one of his poems, which they shared a recording of last night, hit me, “No longer should we be allowed to speak to another poet unless we have answered the question, ‘What, where, who have you helped today?’”

That’s the basis of my new commitment to life. What, where, who have you helped today?

Christopher helped someone every day.

I help my kids every day, and my husband, and that’s a lot, but like Akasha, I look back and think, could I have done even more? I don’t know, but, I’m going to try.

When I got home late last night, I was reminded, even in all my immense self-doubt of late, that being a full-time Mom is a pretty amazing thing, too. I returned home to find my own little letter awaiting. My five-year-old daughter had written it while I was at the service.

I guess the real message is…do as much as you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are. 🙂

___________________________

If you do nothing else with your day (besides reading this post, thank you!) PLEASE watch this video – you WILL be inspired to live and love more. 

Christopher Ya’ir Lane’s Most Powerful Prose