“There’s such a concept of loss. I connected to the idea in this movie of loss and how we react to loss. We think of things in a straight line. Birth → life → death. And then, you know, ok, you died, it’s over. And it’s like that’s not really how it works. If you take those ends and you bend it into a circle, it’s birth → life → death → rebirth. So you have to be prepared when you lose something. When you go through a divorce, when your mother dies, when you lose your house you have to understand that nature has it no other way. There is a rebirth. The death is painful, it doesn’t change the pain of the death. But you gotta stay awake and stay focused for the rebirth that God is about to offer you.”
Will Smith said that about his new movie Seven Pounds. Thank God for DVR. I kept rewinding it over and over again to hear him say those words. I couldn’t hear it enough. Death brings a rebirth?
Every Saturday, I think about my Papaw. I think about the fact that he died on a Saturday morning. Thursday was November 6. He died on September 6. Two months ago. Two months. Has it really been that long? I’ve entirely lost my concept of time. It’s hard to keep track of when anything else happened in the past few months, but not hard to remember that Saturday in September.
At first, I shut down and shut out. Clinging, clutching, I buried myself in my family and in being at home, and time felt like it was standing still. Time still feels as though it’s standing still. But it’s not.
I distracted myself. I stayed in constant movement, worried of spending too much quiet time alone. Too much time to think about what happened, what it meant, how I felt, how it changed me and my family. Every time I had time to think, I cried. And I got so sick of crying. I always cry alone, and after days and weeks of crying alone, it was just too much to take. It felt like I was crying too much. Can you cry too much when you lose someone? Then one day I realized how long it had been since I cried, and that felt wrong too.
I couldn’t do anything right. I didn’t know how I was supposed to act. Who I was supposed to talk to or what I was supposed to say. When was too much? When was not enough? When would I feel better? Would I ever?
I’ve been going through the motions. I’m clutching and clinging on, grasping at something I can never really hold onto - like fingernails digging into the edge of a cliff was all I had to keep me from falling off into an abyss. I’ve been surviving.
So the idea that there’s something else is dizzying. I don’t know what to make of it. I know that other people’s lives have been moving on. Life is happening around me, but I am not in it. I am not a part of it. I have just been distracting myself. Even the guys I’ve chosen to date in the past few months were distractions. Like a little candy or a shiny toy. Something to keep my mind off of how earth-shattering his death is for me.
“The Buddha said we need to look at our own suffering to understand it, otherwise it is like putting a band-aid on a sore: it may cover the sore for a while but eventually the band-aid will fall off and the sore will still be there.”
What if I let myself feel all of it? What am I so afraid of? I have to face this. I am strong enough. I know I am. I have to stop hiding and feel every day.
Rebirth. What is that rebirth? It sounds hard, it sounds challenging. Will it hurt too? I cannot take any more hurt. What would it ask of me? I’m not sure I’m capable of more than surviving right now. I can barely do the things I have to do. I’m barely hanging on. I’m not sure I can handle anything more.
And then, after the fifth or sixth time of rewinding and hearing those words, it hit me. Maybe I don’t have to do anything. Maybe the rebirth is just coming, maybe it’s just part of life. Maybe it’s just part of God’s plan. And knowing and trusting that this isn’t the end of my life or of me is all I have to do. Maybe the rebirth is just coming.
Shortly after my grandfather died, I read an article a woman wrote about taking care of her sister before she died died of cancer. She wrote about caring for her sister, watching her sister decline slowing and watching her die. She said through the experience, she “learned to live in the present and to decide in favor of things that would bring more life.”
That made sense to me. That made sense as the lesson that death brings, and I tried to hold that thought in my mind. To hold it in front of me every time I felt like I was losing this fight. And maybe keeping that thought captive – that life is a choice and that life can be more just as it can be less – will help me recognize the rebirth when it happens. And will help me say yes to it. It is important to always be open to hope and believe in possibility, and it’s important now more than ever.
“Although we have this precious human rebirth, it is only precious if we use it in a beneficial way.” - Ani Thubten Chodron