I was on my hands and knees underneath the counter, digging for a pan to make cornbread until I realized the pan I was searching for in the bowels of my kitchen cabinets, I had brilliantly decided to use to hold beads and rocks several weeks ago, and hence it was sitting on the table in my craft room. I re-routed into the bread pans and there it was, the loaf pan I used to make salmon loaf for Gram one last time. (Okay, okay, Mom might have technically made it and I heated it up.) As I stood up with the pan in my hand, having decided it would possibly work for the cornbread simultaneously wandering down memory lane, I laughed as I discovered the salmon loaf recipe was somehow, in the pan! “Hi Gram, rather present this week aren’t you guys?” I asked, into the room.
Anyone that spends much time with me lately is used to these scenes, little moments where someone I know and love who has died is tapping on my shoulder in some manner saying hello, and I decide to rather openly speak to them in return. Go ahead and call me crazy, I’m quite sure most do, and really I’m quite okay with that. You see, regardless of what I believe or you believe, I choose to see the people I’ve loved and let go to death in my every day. I choose to not lose my dead. Gram isn’t gone, she shows up all around me in many ways, like a loaf pan and a recipe, a cardinal flying by, or popcorn and Wrigley’s gum flying out of the kitchen cabinet at me. You don’t have to believe it’s her spirit, maybe I do really believe that, maybe I don’t; what matters is that I choose to see her in those things that happen. I choose to see her “spirit” all around me even though “she” as we once defined her, is gone.
For me, that’s my way to not lose those I love so much that it’s really hard to not have them on this side with me anymore. I make a choice to look for them, and so I am blessed enough to see them. Sometimes in those moments I feel incredible sadness, and I’ve learned to cry when those moments come, because I need to. More often though I laugh, or smile, or just feel my heart beat a little extra strong and feel a little extra warmth inside, just like I did when they were close, almost as if, they were here.
You don’t have to talk out loud to them or be as “out there” as some people think I seem, that’s just my way, it’s where I’m comfortable and it makes me smile when someone looks at me weird and asks about the invisible people I talk to. It gives me an opportunity to share stories and open conversations. For others, the comfort of day-to-day interaction with those we’ve loved and let go is as simple as choosing to see them in small moments and acknowledging them, and yes, hopefully also using that as a catalyst to share stories, memories and opportunities to bring their memory to life. In doing so we stop losing our dead, we begin to remember, though they are gone from our sight, they are always close, in our hearts and minds, in the memories, laughter and tears. Without losing our dead, we can walk somewhat easier in grief, no, it is not the same as having someone physically present, but it is a way to honor, love and keep their spirit and legacy alive that makes it a bit easier to be here without them by our sides.
So I urge you today – look for those you’ve “lost”, find them in your every day. We don’t have to lose our dead, even in a culture that denies death we can make conscious choices to not lose those we love, to reclaim them even as they are not here physically anymore and remember the lessons the stars teach us every night. You really can see things that aren’t there anymore, and in doing so, see the light and love of those no longer “lost” to us in death, because we open our eyes to see them differently in a million tiny ways.