Ahhh… grief. The sadness comes in waves. One moment, I’m feeling mostly fine and focused on what I’m doing in that very moment, in an altered state of mourning. And then the sadness yanks me under like the strong ocean waves when I was so young at the beach.
Last night I was exhausted after very little sleep the night before and once I finally got into bed, I thought I’d right zonk off. Yet, then the grief hit me and the tears and sobbing welled up like nothing I’ve felt since I learned (while in Holland) that Katherine had passed, ten days ago.
Whoa. There is a firefly in my bedroom. The sun is barely up and I’m sitting here on my bed writing at 6am (something I don’t do often) and there is a firefly gracefully flitting over my altar.
I’d rather write about fireflies than grief. Fireflies make me happy with their mystical, magical orbs of mini-lights. I can watch them these days in the forest edge here where I live. I watched them late last night from the high tree-house-like deck that juts off the back of this abode on the steep hill that I call home.
I turned the kitchen lights off so it would be darker on the deck last night, stepped out into the evening darkness and was awed by the subtleties and joy of the little lights throughout the trees above me and around me.
This firefly in my bedroom right now, I can’t see it this very moment. Maybe it has landed on my large altar just four feet from me. How funny that it has come in to my bedroom right now.
(ps. you will want to click on this photo of the fireflies in Germany, quite an amazing shot. ;~)
Last night, while watching the fireflies in my bleary state of exhaustion and grief, I thought about Katherine and being alive on this gloriously amazing planet. Aren’t we all just fireflies in the wink of a geological time? Some of us shine brighter than others, just because we do… we’re focused on shining and working on getting that tarnish off that life can throw on us. Others are a little dimmer, yet still so full of divinity regardless.
Katherine was a huge Bible reader. But I think she read the same passage over and over again, not the entire Bible with all of the various sections about this king and that war and New and Old. She read Psalm 23 over and over. She quoted it in the interview in my book – the one where I asked people what they would do with God’s phone number, if they had it.
This is the version of Psalm 23 she gave me, memorized it, she did… when I interviewed her back in 1996 or so.
“They say the Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures… Restores my soul; and leads me in the path of righteousness for His namesake. Yay, though He walks through the valleys of the shadows of death… Fear no evil; for there with us, the rod and staff they comfort us. Prepare a table before us, in the presence of our enemy. He anoints our head with oil, our cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our life. And we can dwell in the house of the Lord forever and ever… ”
I suppose a firefly that reads this passage over and over again, and really deeply absorbs it, to the astounding age of 101 … is going to be shining rather brightly compared with someone who doesn’t crack open any spiritual book about living more wisely and closer to the Divine.
So fireflies are winks in the summer time. God’s winking. Earth Mother’s winking. Allah’s winking. The Great Mystery’s winking. Choose your divinity. It makes no difference. Winking at us in their dancing around the trees signaling to their potential mates, I’m here. “See I’m shining my little light”… (not so little for them, maybe about half their body is that anatomical part that has evolved the capacity to glow).
The Divine’s winking at us, nudging us to keep on celebrating and tarnishing our little spiritual selves to connect more and more and more with Him or Her or It.
Fireflies don’t wink for very long. There is a burst of them this late June right now. More than I remember other summers. Maybe they really do well in colder, wetter springs. But they’ll have petered out in their winking dances in the next few weeks.
Maybe they came out for you, Katherine. To dance in joy in the trees for your great long life and huge heart. To celebrate how you gave and gave and gave to so many people. Not just all of your canned goods but your cookies, your kindnesses to neighbors and friends. So much you gave again and again. Those of us who needed love, found you and you gave it to us. So much.
Gosh. Maybe that firefly that I saw just moments ago was you, Katherine. You’ve come by to send me a little message to keep on shining and crying and feeling and giving, just as you gave all of your life, so much, to so many. If so, I’m paying attention. I’m listening here. I’m just letting all of this grief come through so I can be even shinier today than I was yesterday.
I realized yesterday that it does help for me in my grief to focus on how incredibly beautiful it is that you, Katherine, are with your husband, sister, all of your 11 or 12 siblings on the other side now. Maybe even your parents (though they may have come back again, into new bodies by now). You were the last one from your immense family here on this earthly plane of magical fireflies.
It also struck me that the most powerful thing I can do when I think of you is to say ‘Thank you.”
I think funerals should be about gratitude. Saying Thank You to the person who has passed. And then let’s talk about fireflies in the trees and dancing and God or Earth Mother or whomever who is winking at us all the time. And what joy it is to catch that wink and pass it on. And keep polishing. Polishing. Yep.
Love you, Katherine. Thank you! I know you can hear me.