March 22, 2016
Birth. Last week I watched Guadalupe Jo Betenia Taylor emerge into the world. Her mom had a long labor for a second baby. Her mom had a long labor for any baby. It was hard and painful and vulnerable and messy and gut wrenching and beautiful and intense and sacred. Two months ago I watched Phillip Randall Harris Marmolejo come into the world. He was 8 weeks early. Ready or not, his parents welcomed him. It was not the birth they expected; it was not the place they wanted; it was not the timing that was intended; and it didn't matter. His birth was gut wrenching and beautiful and intense and sacred. Birth is out of our control. It's supposed to be. That is what makes life so special. Birth is one of the few mysteries left in our lives.
Death. 7 years ago, I was one day late in watching Traci Lee die. By the time I arrived to be at her side, she was already dead. She died of a drug overdose. Intended or not, she took her last breath alone. A year and a half ago, I was 5 minutes too late to be with Valerie Gail as she took her last breath. I was pulling up to the hospital when I got the phone call that she had just passed. She died of metastatic breast cancer with her family nearby. Death is out of our control. It's supposed to be. That is what makes life so special. Death is one of the few mysteries left in our lives.
Cancer. My mom's cancer has metastasized. It started in her ovaries. Then it went to her colon. Now it is in her lungs, spleen, and the soft tissue surrounding her psoas and illiacus muscles. She lives in Houston, Texas. I live in Berkeley, CA. She was at my birth and I am not ready for her death.
We will all die. I keep telling myself this over and over. We will all die. I could walk out of the house tomorrow and get hit by a bus. We just happen to know what will (most likely) cause my mom's death. I am on this journey every day, from afar. She is on this journey, every day, face to face. She is fighting for her life. Her hair will fall out again. She will get tired. She will get scared. She will get angry. She will have hope. She is a warrior. This I know. She is a warrior.
Marriage. In two months I am getting married. My mom will not be there. She will not make the trek from Texas to California. She will toast from afar. She will not get to experience the longevity of my marriage to Dre or the ways in which I find comfort or softness in her. She will not get to experience me finally letting go of my vigilance. She will not know Dre, not really. She will not get to see Noah and Ren go off to college, or maybe even graduate from high school. This is what makes life so special - the reality that each day is the only day we have. We are all impermanent. We are all going to die.
Yoga. Today in class I compared yoga to birth. After noting the obvious differences, I described the ways in which both experiences pull you in to the present. Both experiences require complete absorption. If the student, or the birthing woman, partakes, there is the chance for samadhi - the ultimate absorption. The same could be said of death. Their is the chance to experience connection with the divine, with each other, with letting go, with breath, grit, pain, ecstasy, with everything. If we felt this feeling more often, we would understand the sacredness of it all. We would understand more deeply that this is what makes life so special and there would be less fear. We would understand that life and death are out of our control, and because of that, they are meant to be revered and honored.
At present, I cannot imagine my life without my mom on the planet. I cannot imagine the feeling that will come when she dies. I cannot imagine the depth of my grief or my sister's or my step-dad's. And, today I don't have to. Today I can relish in the daily texts and phone calls, the visits to Texas, the hard conversations, the belly laughter and the aching tears. Today, I get to witness the strength, courage, vulnerability, and wisdom that my mom shows up with every day. Thank you mom. I love you beyond words. I am grateful for each day with you in it.