Jeanette Dubois

It is the first day of Spring, the Spring Solstice, and I am thinking about death.

This is perhaps not the first item that comes to mind for most people when you ask them what Spring would represent to them.  But my mind takes the odd path sometimes.

In its own way Spring is about the death of Death, the renewal of Life, that which springs forth from that which has gone before and perhaps given it’s own life that the new might be born. 

 Seeds that germinated over winter now burst forth into flower.  Bees, birds and butterflies break out from their hives, cocoons, and shells to feast upon those flowers and spread their pollen, helping to further the growth of all things.

It is a time of renewed hope, of breathing in deeply the scents and freshness of the air, of young love and old friendships rekindled.  Spring is a time that brings with it a freshness and anticipation of every possibility.

And it was in Spring a year ago, 2020, that we were asked to shut all of that down, to stay inside, and the pall of a great tragedy and fear slowly crept over everything like a shadow from dark clouds covering the sun, causing us to hide inside rather than sit in our gardens enjoying the seasons.

Thus began the time when we began to understand what it really meant to be connected.

We discovered quickly just how much those connections we’d taken for granted on a daily basis really meant to us.  

But in a macabre move, we also discovered our shared connected to grief and the many other dark emotions we all went through together in this past year.  So many of us shared that same bleak night of the soul as we said an early goodbye to someone we knew and loved, or watched another go through illness and the specter of death, or we ourselves did.  Whether we knew it or not, it brought us all together as we shared our trauma with one another.

There were so many common connections we lost this past year, connections we had to set aside for what we thought would be weeks and has now turned into months and a year.  And the loss of these connections has made us acutely aware of the importance of them.

Jeanette DuBois Saying Goodbye to my mother

What did we lose

and

what did we gain

this year?

There were the connections we lost from our inability to visit each other. 

The connections we lost from our inability to entertain or be entertained with one another. 

The connections we lost by our inability to go to our jobs, even if we didn’t really care for them. 

The connections we lost by being in community together in any meaningful way.

And then there were the connections we gained, ones we didn’t necessarily want to have.  

The connections of anxiety.  The connections of uncertainty.  The connections of anger and sadness.  The connections of missing each other. The connections of losses we all were hearing about or experiencing personally ourselves.  The connections of death.

And it forced us to connect to the idea of our own deaths, or at least the possibility of it.

And this is led people to react in extreme ways.  Many acted out in fear, anger, hatred and pain in one way or the other.  For some it caused them to withdraw and hide.  For others it caused them to go into denial about everything.  For yet others, as we’ve seen only too clearly, it caused them to fight and argue, and act out in destructive ways that hurt others around them, as well as themselves.

But for some, for those who chose it, for those who are brave enough, open enough, or just curious enough to do the work, it caused them to transform and evolve.

The connection to death we experienced together was not just collective, but individual.  This past year was about how each of us individually chose to face that particular reality of life, the one constant, the only thing we really all have in common, and the ultimate unavoidable ending we all will experience whether we accept it or not.

As my husband likes to say, life causes death.  So what are we going to do about it?

Well, one thing I’d suggest is this: we stop avoiding thinking about it and face it head on.  We accept that it’s there.  We recognize its’ reality.  We consider how it affects us, and our daily decisions.  

We use all of that to change our behaviors and patterns of behavior so that we are kinder, more compassionate, more expansive, more thoughtful, greater than we have been before.  

We take it and allow it to heighten our abilities to transform and change into better beings.  We choose to focus our energy into acting out a deeper love of life, rather than hatred and rage towards it.

Jeanette DuBois Saying Goodbye to my mother

We choose to let it make us better rather than bitter

And we allow ourselves to enjoy life more because of it.

How, you ask?

It’d be easy for me to say something like “meditate more” or “get better exercise” or “pray.”  And these are all good things to do when contemplating death, especially your own.

But what if we were to set that aside, set aside the idea of God or Spirit or anything outside of ourselves?  What if we were to, instead, take a moment to look around and say to ourselves; 

“Maybe this really is all there is.”

And let ourselves just be in that for a minute.  

Let ourselves just be in LIFE for a minute.   

See how it feels to just sit in this space of here and now and not worry about anything other than being alive in this moment.  Maybe it can help us to center ourselves into the wonder of breathing.  Maybe it can get us to experience the miracle of each of our senses and how they interact with our environment.  

Maybe it can bring us to an awareness of the magic of every living thing around us.  Maybe it will help us to recognize the miracle that exists in every single flower, bee, butterfly and bird that we see blossoming around us on this fine Spring day.

Maybe we can allow it to bring us into a place of such gratitude for simply being alive right now, that it actually sweeps away all of that anxiety, fear, anger and hatred that has been plaguing us.  Maybe we can let it take us into a place of peace.

Death is what brings the sweetness of life into such sharp clarity.

When we lose someone – or some creature – whom we’ve loved deeply, every moment with them is brought into focus, and the absence of their presence is felt in every pore of our body.  We will remind ourselves then to appreciate those whom we still have, we will tell everyone around us to do so, we will promise ourselves that we will do so from now on.

But we forget to do this with ourselves.

So maybe it’s time to remember how to do this for ourselves.  To sit in the real existence and eternal moment of this second in time where we are right now and just appreciate it for what it is and all it is.

Life, surrounding us, filling us, breathing through us, being us, connected into literally every single cell of our existence.

Life, down to the tiniest mitochondria and nucleus of each particle within us, cycling about like a miniature solar system in each cell in our body.

Life, expanded outward until it becomes and is the Sun itself, is the Galaxy, is the Solar System, is the Universe, which allows life to exist on this little second-rate planet called Earth in the first place.

Life, which we only get to experience this one time, seriously.  Even if we do reincarnate we don’t come back as this, what we are now, at this moment in time. It is all here and now, no matter what you believe, no matter your religion or spiritual inclination or none at all, it doesn’t matter.  All that you are, all that you have, is now, here, there is no second chance, no do-over.  You will never be you in this moment again.  Ever.  This is it, the only life you have in this body as this person in this hearbeat is right now.

So live it fully.

Life, in it’s many interations and incarnations, is made more glorious because it walks hand in hand with death

The fact of our death, of the death of all life on this planet in every form, is what makes it so dang precious and special.  And what makes it so important that we savor it, cherish it, protect it, and value it beyond price.

It is why we must fight to protect the life of those who are being abused and who are mistreated.  It is why we must fight to bring justice to those whose lives have been taken too early through violence or racism or prejudices or other means.  Life, in and of itself, calls out to us to demand it.

All life deserves respect.

It is why we must work to help those who are in need and to save those who are being hurt.  It is why we must reach out to care for those who are weak or disabled and to have compassion for those who are weak.

All life deserves love.

It is why we must reach out to one another in kindness and give to each other with open hands and open hearts.  It is why we must care for one another with honesty and bring dignity to each other with honor.

All life deserves joy.

It is why we must come together, to connect to one another and to the other creatures on this planet and to the planet itself, to recognize how we are all woven together, and how if just one thread comes loose and is pulled out, the entire tapestry is affected and can ultimately be destroyed.

…But also how if just one thread is repaired and replaced, is healed, the entire tapestry can be complete and whole once again…

All life deserves peace.

I am sitting here on this first day of Spring and I am thinking about death… and how it connects us to life.  And how that connects us to not only each other, but the bees, the butterflies, the birds, the planet itself.

And I am thinking that life is, indeed, very, very good.  And I am so glad to be a part of it right now.

I hope you are as well.  

Regardless of what may be happening with you right now, I hope you find a way to allow death to bring you into an understanding of, and alignment with, Life.

Happy Easter.

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By JEANETTE DUBOIS

Jeanette is a film & tv editor, writer, director and producer who’s worked on Emmy & Telly Award winning shows, movies, and music videos for a variety of networks.  She’s also a trained operatic who mostly sings to her cats now, though sometimes she expands her audience to her family & friends.  She loves gardening, good books, good wine, and good conversations, preferably all at the same time.

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