My Aunt passed away this weekend. She fought a long, hard battle with cancer. She was one of the strongest women I've known. She had a will that could withstand steel. She fought til the end. She leaves a legacy behind her. Her daughters are striking resemblances of her and their spirits are much the same. This week we will gather as a family to say our goodbyes and to celebrate the life she lived. I am thankful for the time we had with her.
I've said good bye to many of my loved ones throughout my life. Probably more than most people my age. I've also seen a lot of births. I have been struck by how similar the care is at both ends of life. These extreme points when the thin space between here and afterlife are somehow mixing. Every time, my heart has been drawn into both realms with the same fervor, passion, joy and sorrow. Through every experience, the anticipation is the same and the fear of the unknown is a companion along the journey. I feel fully alive on both ends of the cycle of life. On one side, you are awaiting the unknown of life, coming fully here to us. An anticipation that requires all of your senses, your heart and mind and skills. On the other side, you are somber with the realization that finite reality has decended. You await with a heavy, heavy heart. Passion exudes through you as you are aware these may be your final words, your final embrace, your final kiss before the end of a life comes.
I cry at both. I cry passionately, deeply. I am learning to embrace both, fully. They are the moments when Heaven shows itself. The giving and the taking of life. God embraces both.
When I think upon these lessons I am learning, I know they are for greater purposes. The truth that God is ever present with us, is never more evident than in birth and death, because I see Him, I feel Him, I sense the holy in both.
So, in our house, my kids have seen mommy crying more and it leads to discussions about how much people mean to us and when they are gone, we realize the weight of their loss in our lives. I guess I've been teaching my kids how to grieve by letting them watch me. Maybe grieving is something we need to be taught, at least in our culture. I always think about many other cultures that I know where a community will stratically place "professional" grievers around the group, to cry out, to wail, so that those who need to let it out feel comfortable to do so. In Amercia, I don't always feel like it's acceptable to "wail" out your sorrows or pains. I don't know, call me crazy, but I just don't buy it. My children will wail when they are upset and then afterwards, they feel so much better. I think I could learn from that. So, as far as it is up to me, I want to be good at grieving.
Here's to wailing!
Lastly, I want to pay tribute to my Aunt Hanna, who was born and raised in Korea. She was proud of her heritage and so are we. May I walk in her strength, courage, love, and endurance. May her devotion to her family be an inspiration to us all, may her pride in her history give us reason to embrace our own, and may her fight be in my blood to give life to those who would otherwise be dying.
we will always love you, my beautiful Aunt Hanna.