I will die soon. I don´t know whether it will be in 6 months or 18, the factors are out of my control, but my spirit is making the adjustments that are needed for me to step between the worlds. I am noticing that the when of it is no longer important to me, which is an enormous surprise for someone who has fought for so long to beat the odds and stay around. It is a relief for me to be able to say these words out loud and I am beyond grateful that my husband and I can talk about it as a fact, secure in the fact that our love for each other has been actualized every day of our married life and so we are ok.
My dear friend Anastasia died two years ago and she was kind enough to email me with notes from the frontier as she transitioned. It was a great gift that she gave me in describing her experience as being a gentle cocooning by loving spirits. I find this to be so as well.
I have done all I can with the things of this world that must be done. Arrangements made, contracts signed, bequests made, preferences expressed. Now it is time for the soul work, the work that comes from a deep place out of sight and that can either be taken on or ignored. But I find that it isn´t work and that, standing at somewhat a remove from this world now, it is just so very interesting to watch what is coming into my life to assist me.
When I was younger I began to notice a pattern during transitional periods in my life. Before I would be able to move along to the next thing, avatars for meaningful experiences and people of the time closing would suddenly appear in my life and offer an opportunity for me to engage. The same thing is happening to me now.
My life has been characterized by hermetically sealed periods and identities. I was one of the people who experienced such trauma as a child that my personality was not able to synthesize – the who I was was not acceptable to my parents and so it was ontologically critical that I develop a second personality that would engage their care. The developed personality became fiercely protective of the raw, soft, child that I was but to the point of becoming dismissive of her in later life.
When I moved to Montana, it was to shed the fierce persona and to explore what I felt was my authentic, though neglected, self. I reconnected with friends from the old days but was surprised to realize that, in spite of myself, my entire personality had grown and changed and synthesized to some degree. I was no longer the mountain girl who was comfortable living in a canyon and not seeing people for months on end, I needed engagement, I cared about the world, and I also needed a degree of creature comforts previously seen only as symbols of my other self.
The fact of living in a place of mountains and lakes and glaciers and fierce winds takes away the conceit of urban life that you have control. You don´t have time to argue about turf when you are trying to survive a blizzard. You don´t have time to thoroughly hate your neighbor if your survival is dependent upon your common life together. And so, in this clarifying environment I was given a tremendous opportunity to see myself as I was and to learn that I was actually interesting and funny and worth knowing. It didn´t matter that my in-laws never liked me, or that my mother never saw me, it didn´t really make a dent or diminish me in any way that I didn´t allow.
What is happening is that avatars of each stage of my life are appearing in my life now and will be part of my life at the end. The first thing that marked for me the new reality of approaching transition was a letter I received two years ago from the wife of my first love to tell me he had died suddenly of a heart attack. Although I was not in touch with him, this was a man to whom I was so connected spiritually that throughout my life he would counsel me in dreams. The idea of a world without his energy was unthinkable for me, he had been such a subliminal presence for over 50 years.
Two years ago through Facebook I was able to connect with a friend from my salad days in Memphis when we were cool and fun and rocking chicks. She is French and we were able to meet at a family dinner once and immediately clicked. We had lost touch. When I first knew her my fierce persona was tenaciously becoming French as my mother´s Huguenot ancestry was a huge part of what she valued. I am so glad to be back in touch and we were able to catch up on my last trip abroad.
The part of me that has been the most resistant to an inner-rapprochement has been the person I became when my fierce persona was allowed to run unchecked. I went into banking in my younger life because I knew that power followed money. Not having power made it a no-brainer for me, except that I am hopeless with numbers and so the fierce persona had a lot of work to do to try develop some facility. It led to some really fun times once I had ascended the ladder, was running a corporate finance department, and playing with the big dogs.
What is painful to me now is looking back and seeing how easily it is to fall into the belief that you are entitled to your good fortune in some way. I did. I was pretty insufferable. A tangible sign of that is the memory of the day when I realized that I had paid more for a pair of shoes in my closet than 6 months pay for the woman who faithfully took care of our house and us. I had gone to value things more than people and almost lost my soul.
I had wanted to bury those memories, to pretend that I was never that person. As someone who engages the spiritual this was never going to be an option for me and so, right on schedule, I got two Facebook friend requests this past weekend from people that represent that time. I suspect that once they see who I have become they won´t be interested in staying friends, but that is my underestimating them and so it is with great interest that I watch what happens next. They are giving me a gift of their presence and I am extremely grateful.
This blog is going to change direction a bit. My engagement with mountains is going to have to be at a remove, through curating content and discussing mountains as symbol and metaphor. Instead, I am going to write about the spirit mountain of dying. Pretty fierce! We don´t talk about death but I think everyone really wants someone to lead the way and to share. As my friend Anastasia did for me so I offer my experiences to you.