We are all together on this ship and some of us will die sooner. Some young. I will grieve again, and comfort. It may be me. Those of us who are lucky will know ahead of time and not be incapacitated by pain and exhaustion and messes we have not cleaned up. If we are luckier this heightened awareness that is the gift of death may be seized by us periodically and good and great things and moments will be brought into the world as a result.
What do I want to have been in my life with my mothers? my fathers? sisters and brothers, loves, clients? And my children (may it be me first!) And thus what lives in this new day as a result of these questions? What letters, what plans, what gifts and tending, what humility and bravery and art? What songs go out into this my world?
So I am, at my best, what I came here for, a deep gladness that where it touches meets the world’s needs. It is not morbid to befriend the awareness of death, the sandpaper that sensitizes you to the astonishment of living. Having this astonishment, and its attendant humility, gratitude, grace, hilarity and vulnerability is our mandate, what I owe to those living and those gone. Life as honoring. Such a life will have a very different death, one that transforms the experience of loss. I have lived this.
So with every guided retreat client, every dove release, even every grin on the street corner, this is where I stand with you, spoken or unspoken: Next year or fifty years gone, what will your good death be? How do we get there?
When you have worked to create a good death whenever it will come — simple, loving, remembering, giving, clean — will you not have lived a beautiful, an extraordinary life?
And imagine a whole world of such lives. That Earth.
It is possible to heal even what has not yet happened.
This I believe.