It’s a thing you only gently notice in your twenties, but by the time your thirties come around and you see your first few gray hairs, in places you would rather them not be, you are sure of it, “Yup, I’m aging.” Though this fact has been true the moment your cells began dividing in your mother’s womb, something about seeing the wrinkles slowly appear, and your patience for certain things slowly disappear, solidifies this one fact: this body will not live forever. It can be a challenge to love something that you feel is betraying you through the inevitable passing of time, that we often see as an enemy, instead of a most cherished friend. Though, a gift these beautiful loaned bodies shall remain. From within them we declare so loudly what we don’t have time for, in hope for some reflection’s echo of agreement that makes us feel a little less alone in our defiance, the fear of embracing our death, on the horizon of a child’s eyes. In the last moments, the truth is, we have time even for the most annoying thing.
But who wants to grow hair out the ears!? I mean seriously. And where does the long nose hair really end. Why must speech slow down like knees? And why do I need glasses now? For the longest while I just thought, you know, “something was in my eye.” You want to know what was in my eye, a prescription, but I couldn’t read it. Life is one big catch 22, and rightfully so, it is how it makes you reach for and remember community, the people you age with and need. This knowing that 100 years from now, none of us will be here, makes you search for others that “get it” the older you get. What to do with this feeling of having a longer story than the younger ones want to listen to? Cherished eternal elder of elders, can you teach me?
In April of this year, our EIC community lost a very special soul that “got it,” and though suffering through each stage of cancer as we painfully watched, she made time to share long stories, and she made time to laugh full and deep. Sometimes all we would have to do is look at each other, and the comedy of whatever the situation was, was instantly communicated. And isn’t that what community is, that someone once a stranger, can become long lost family you can share wordless laughter and love with. That though temporary, life gives us these gems of memory to hold on to, these reasons to enjoy each breath we take. Reasons to reconnect with those we’ve stayed away from for far too long. It is as if we like to pretend that we are in these incarnations forever, and that delicious delusion, eases the gentle prick of each seconds permanent passing. We know we are leaving. We must make the time to see each other.
Blessed are those who notice the moments when time slows down for a window of miracle to be made manifest. Being allowed to say goodbye at the right moment, is a miracle. As she lay on her death bed, we sang a healing icaro together in the hospital one last time, we laughed together, the final laugh, the laugh that hides tears, but is still so sweet. I kissed her gently on her head, and whispered I love you in her ear. As I looked back one last time before heading to the airport to catch my flight back to Peru, I knew it was my last time seeing my friend alive. From that moment I have learned a few things, humor can never have a terminal illness, and like the beautiful soul light of my dear friend, mother to our medicine circles, a sense of humor doesn’t die.
This post was written in loving memory of Karina Rivera. Thank you for becoming a guardian, a guiding spirit, an ancestor. Thank you for being a most wonderful friend. The soothing sound of your joyous laughter, fills my heart today.