The best thing about life sometimes is simply the possibility that things may change. Life may not be all that good today, or yesterday, but there is a tomorrow, and it there is a small chance it will be good. It’s when you no longer feel like there is possibility that you end up in the rabbit’s hole of depression.
—-> An Easter story: On Easter, I cobbled together my hanai’d family members for a Sunday brunch. The Beekeeper and my older female friend from ‘Bawston’ were the intended targets of a cranberry apple pie and a kale quiche. But Ms. Bawston’s mother was dying of cancer, and had moved in with her daughter to spend her last days. My friend’s house was temporarily filled with oxygen equipment, cottage cheese in the fridge and a round-the-clock care schedule.
I spent my morning mourning my lack of family, but I was determined to enjoy my easter, even if I had to force feed my pie. Catholic Easter mass made me cry, since it seems only couples with small children honor the mass any more. The nave of this church was shaped like a ship, and flowing yellow cloth led to the top of the church. All I wanted was to float up with it into the unknown, and put this, my personal suffering, behind me. I am here. I am present. My sadness has a purpose.
Ms. Bawston’s house is in the back back of the valley, surrounded by lush mountains, with views to the ocean. It is constantly rainy. We made our pie, with frequent interruptions. I used cranberries saved from Thanksgiving, since they aren’t available in the islands year round. To my surprise, Ms. Bawston brought out her mother’s fine china, and we shared wine and conversation over our simple lunch in the view of the mountains. Ms. Bawston’s mother (both she and her daughter were single mothers and only-children, but that is another story) was able to come out onto the lanai (porch), too – and although she said she wouldn’t eat, she ate my pie and quiche healthily.
That was the last meal she had. Two days later she passed away – so very quickly – from her cancer. I only got to meet her for that one day, that one dinner. <——
My teacher likes to tell us we are “hollow and empty”, made of nothing more than a little water with some salts and lipids. A little calcium or flouride-based apatite in our bones. But because of that functioning vessel we call our bodies, there remains possibility to help others, connect with others, and to be a part of the physical world.
At yoga the next day, after my friend’s mother passed, I felt an overwhelming gratitude for my body. I am not without bitterness that I might not have a daughter to take care of me in my final days. But for my friend’s mother, in the end, it was a makeshift family that helped celebrate her last meal.
I’ll leave you with the wise words of Roger Ebert, who also passed this week, and did not have children of his own:
“After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and telling too many jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all also eventually die, but so it goes.
We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”