Fall is my favorite time of year. But for some reason, Samhain this year has an aura of sadness for me. I have explored this in my heart, and believe it comes from a number of directions, but all of them relate to the impermanence of life. Today was really the only convenient day for us to spend time with my mother in an attempt to celebrate her birthday on Nov. 1, and although I would have loved to celebrate Samhain with the Grove, I had to set this priority.
My mother was once a very vital, vibrant, intelligent and active woman. Though not well educated, she was bright and learned new things quickly, becoming a personnel manager with a large company. Then, several years ago, she had a very bad fall down some oily concrete steps at her workplace. She shattered some vertebrae, cracked an elbow, and did other damage to her body. It catastrophically disabled her. While the damage to her body was primarily to her back, knee and arm, the ensuing treatments, pharmaceuticals, and stress of constantly having to fight for her right to workers’s comp have taken their toll on her mind as well as her body. Today when we sat down to have a meal together, she could not cut her own food. She was sometimes in obvious pain. Her comments were often vague and off-topic–it was obvious that her mind was not focused. She would ask the same question she had asked just a few minutes before, or make the same comment. Of course, this has been true for some time now, but it seems that today, celebrating her birthday, watching her and listening to her made it all the more real. It seems that each time I spend time with her, I see more of her slipping away.
I remember a time when she was so active. I could tell you stories… oh, I could entertain and/or bore you with stories of her past antics. For instance, there was the Saturday night when she and my father (the Pastor) were engaged in some sort of horseplay and he chased her through the parsonage, the both of them laughing like mad. She took a sudden turn into the bathroom and my father, in an attempt to follow, tripped over a rug and broke his toe, necessitating a trip to the emergency room. And of course, my little sister, eight at the time, had to ask her Sunday school class to pray for her Daddy because he had broken his toe chasing Mommy through the house the night before. News spread quickly, and when my Father stood up to deliver the sermon, not one person in the congregation could keep a straight face.
Of course, my sister is gone, too. She was killed in a car accident when she was 23 years old and I was 30.
So… when we talk about this being the time of the year when the veil between the Worlds is gossamer-thin, I think of my sister who has already passed, and my mother who often seems to be so close to passing. How thin is that veil, I wonder. What separates my late sister, Karen, from the rest of us, or does anything really separate us at all? Does my mother’s loosening attachment to this realm mean she is in closer contact with Karen, somehow?
My personal belief is that souls continue, in some way or another–that the Energy contained in each human being does not simply evaporate at the end of life. Physics says it can’t happen that way, and my heart tells me the same thing. So, when I journeyed tonight, in the darkness of my living room, with the scent of burning sage and frankincense wafting around me and the rhythms of drums and rattles in my ears, I spoke to my sister. I told her that I miss her, and that Mom and Dad miss her, too. Did she hear me? I think she did. But is that important, really? Or is it more important that I acknowledge my sister, and our love for her, even though her body is not here with us now?
I sat here and tried to come up with some pithy, wise, erudite way to end this post, but I really can’t. Maybe I’m just tired. I do know this: as I look forward to the coming year, I want to make sure that I don’t forget to maintain connections with those I love, both those still here and those who have gone on. They are all important.