That Chris lived and died artfully is both glorious and poignant. Glorious because of the way she continues to inspire me and many others to do likewise and poignant because I am surrounded everyday by the artifacts – the books, papers, journals, images, clothes, furniture, fabrics, trinkets, and decorations – through which she expressed herself.
I will tidy the house one day, maybe even change things round a bit, but right now I don’t want to do anything that might dilute or diminish the sense I have of being in her presence. In the meantime, I wonder how best to stay connected to the vibrant being that I so loved.
Hmmm. I notice that I used the past tense for love, maybe because despite all that I still love about her, I can no longer love her embodied womanly self. That physical aspect of her has gone from the world. But what else of her remains, I wonder? What am I speaking to when I light a candle and tell her how much I miss her?
I’m not religious and I have no prescribed answers to these questions. If I believe anything, it is that Chris lives on in us through our memories of her, the ways in which she challenged, changed, and delighted us, and something more elusive and enduring that we might call her essence or spirit.
To claim to know what this is with any certainty would somehow diminish the awesome mystery of life and death that I have experienced in the last few weeks and months. What I want is not to pretend to understand this mystery but to learn how to participate in it more fully. And I seek to do this through my writing and (my future commitment to Chris’s spirit) through sketching and image-making.
A friend lent me an anthroposophical book called Staying Connected: How to Continue Your Relationship With Those Who Have Died based on some of Rudolf Steiner’s talks and meditations. As usual, I find myself losing patience with the turgid and declaratory tone of Steiner’s prose (as full of certainty as a Papal Edict) though his poetry is more ambiguous and has a bit more heart.
May my love be for you
In the spirit-realm
May my seeking soul
Find your soul.
May my thinking of your being
Ease your cold
Ease your heat.
In this way we shall be united:
I with you,
You with me.
I have also experienced the powerful – and almost universally loving – presence of ancestors and departed loved ones during Family Systems Constellations. But when I really want to feel connected with Chris, it’s either through my own artful practice or else the poetry of someone like that great spiritual seeker Rumi, especially when it’s a poem that we found together and both loved.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.