After the death of a loved one, the details of life around me (the colors, shapes, sounds, smells and tastes) become very pronounced. I’ve felt this overdrive alertness before, with the death of my young cousin, two years ago in spring. Many little things in my daily life will now become sharp, jagged and crisp.
This is how it will be, I think, this feeling of my senses heightened and pulsing…when others I cherish die. I see that the threads of my loved ones, whose lives have been so intricately woven into the vast pattern that is MY life, are many. Some of the threads crisscross, this way and that, the pattern becoming vastly more intricate as I age. Some of the strings intertwine too tightly, others stretch far away from the center, where my heart throbs in joy but sometimes in pain. The threaded design is always changing, stretching and pulling as my relationships change, as they evolve and sometimes, sadly, dissolve.
Part of that change is when the living threads become the threads of memory…the memory of a loved one who has passed, the memory of the relationship, the memory of that person’s interactions with me, the words and feelings we exchanged. That’s what happens with life…and change…and death. Living threads change into memory threads and the whole pattern reshapes over and over. Memory threads are inevitable, yes, but they can be strong, and just like those yarns of the living, they can still hold you, embrace you, and secure you whenever you flounder.
Today, I notice my rich coffee, overly creamed just as I like it, throughout every swallow. I don’t chug, I savor. I breathe deeply the gamey odor of my dog’s fur and I don’t rush to wash my hands after fully massaging her back and the numerous folds of skin that bunch up around her thick neck. This is how it goes for me when someone in my family passes…this assault of the senses. Yes, there is sadness…deep sadness, but also, there are vivid colors, distinctive shapes and sharp smells.
I am breathing deeply now, taking stock of all the threads that have reshaped into a new pattern these past couple of days. The reshaping happens every day but I am noticing it today. I see the memories of Uncle Iran as they surround me and embrace me. This is my life, today, and this is how I do it when someone has died.