Last week marked the third anniversary of my father’s death. I felt off all week until I remembered my words for the year. Equanimity is my theme for the year, but I am also working with some ‘supporting’ words: Soften Devotion Communion Ask Listen Trust.
Ask, Listen, and Trust are there because I am working to ask for and trust guidance. My usual mode is to soldier on, just put my head down, and press on in hard times. I have to get pretty quiet and really invite myself to let down my guard in order to be present for guidance from the universe or my own higher self. I don’t know about you, but I think they’re probably the same thing.
After some focused time, I was able to acknowledge that what I was feeling was grief for my father, I spent some time reflecting on my favorite memories with him. The time I came home with the munchies and he found me scarfing down marshmallows and commented that he’d read recently that a craving for sweets was a sign of using marijuana. The time my 64 year-old dad helped me chase a sex starved cow around 40 acres to get her back in the barn. The way he could hug me and whisper “there, there, Pammie” when I really needed to be soothed.
It was a beautiful little weep fest.
And then Thursday arrived, my best day of the week, because I spend the whole day with my infant grandchild. Each week, I see new leaps in his development. How to use hands! Learning to eat! Smiling at having his neck nuzzled. Squawking at being inserted into a jacket. I’ve realized that part of the pure heart pleasure of caring for him is that I can just shower him with affection, and he can take it. He’s not preoccupied with anything else. He’s not too busy. He’s not interpreting my motives. He is an open channel.
As I am present with him each week, I feel like I am watching him incarnate on this material plane. I am witnessing not only his physical and cognitive development but also his soul coming to life here.
During the time I spent with my father in hospice care, he was fully himself in mind and spirit and we got to laugh together as I rubbed his neck and put lotion on his hands. I got to show him my love, completely. And it came to me this week, that as I cared for him in his waning days, he too was able to receive my love. He was less preoccupied with the details of life and was moving towards transition. He was able to receive care and we just did what was needed. We were just present with all our love. And he received it. He too was an open channel.
So my wee little grandson, in his infant wisdom, helped me to be with my grief, which is after all, just love with tears. Both my grief and joy brought me to a place where I could see the incarnation and the transition as the circle of life. I was able to welcome my swollen heart as part of being fully present here and now with my feelings.
I know that in that circle, I’m ever closer to the transition. And given that knowledge, what will I do with myself today? How will I use my words and actions? How will I use my thoughts to bring joy and presence of mind to myself and others.
I invite you to consider these same questions.
The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.
~ Sharon Salzberg