Letting go


It's hard to let go sometimes.

I dreamed about my dead mother one night last week. She's been dead for move than seven years, but I guess you never get over the death of your mother. She was, in the dream, sitting on a chair, but I could see through her, as if she were a ghost. She didn't say anything--she just sat there, shimmering, fading away, becoming more ghostlike, beginning to disappear. My dream took on a frantic, nightmarelike quality, and I was overcome with horror. Repeatedly I cried out, "Don't go!", each time louder than before.

My dream represented a desire to hold on to something that, in reality, I have no ability to hold on to. Death is, of course, an inescapable part of our lives. Interestingly enough, I once had a similar dream about my father after he died, although that dream did not involve screaming. In that dream, he was walking away from me, ghostlike, and as he kept walking he gradually disappeared.

Letting go is hard. Believing in the afterlife has the advantage that it makes the process of letting go easier--perhaps because in one sense you never are fully letting go if you believe that your loved one carries on a continued existence in some fashion. I do not rule out the possibility of life after death. I would like to believe in some kind of blissful existence in the afterlife. But I have to admit that I am skeptical about the whole thing. I realize that not really believing in an afterlife gives life a certain tragic quality. But it also means that every moment in our lives matter, that every moment is precious.

During the last full moon, it occurred to me, as I looked up in the night sky, that if I live another 30 years (to the ripe age of 77), I will experience another 360 or so full moons. That's all I've got left. Maybe more, maybe less, depending on when I actually die, but in any case not so many. Yeah, okay, full moons aren't so special. Or are they? Just 360 of them left, give or take. Maybe if I think about how few of them are left in my life, they might seem more special.

Someday, after I die, I will be just a shimmering ghost in people's memories, as they get on in their lives without me. I will fade away and will no longer be a part of the web of existence. I won't be making decisions that play into the broader collection of decisions that are made every day in billions of ways. Oh sure, I also won't be a consciously experiencing self, of course; but regardless of that selfish aspect of my disappearance, it also means that I won't be around to matter to the world at large, I won't be adding to the collective set of activities that make up the never ending processes of the universe.

Someday, I will not be able to look up at the night sky and see a full moon. And I won't be able to write about it in a blog either.


John Shuck said...

Very thoughtful. I'll be thinking about it when we have our full moon meditation next week!

You put this very well. Whatever happens after this life, it doesn't take away the insight that this life is precious...

Greg said...

I'm with you on this one.

I just lost another dear person to death. I celebrate her life, but my faith has been shaken for some time, and I'm still trying to build it again - this time, stronger. But it can be a difficult job, exhausting. Sometimes I just get tired of trying to understand. And sometimes I feel as if God is just one mean *@!. But that feeling will pass, it always does.

Thanks for the post.