The dead are close. Maybe it’s because this year has been quiet, slower, and interrupted.
In this time of waiting and (sometimes) hoping, I am calling out to those who have been places I haven’t been. Who have seen things I haven’t seen. Who might be able to see what’s coming. Who might be able to offer solace, support, and strength.
I call to the dead. The dead call to me.
Turning an Ear to the Great Below
The ancestor altar in my home is heavier with picture frames holding the dead. I’ve added poems and pomegranates. I’ve lit incense and whispered prayers. I’ve laughed and joked. I’ve cried and wailed.
I have screamed. To the silence.
To the dead I know, thank you.
To the dead whose names I don’t know, thank you.
To the dead whose pictures have gathered dust, I celebrate you. I honor you with the cleansing of tears and the gentle movement of cloth against glass and wood.
I make room for you at the table of my heart. I sing songs to you in the presence of your memory.
I listen. Not because I expect you to make things easier. Not because I expect you to do anything. Not because I believe you owe me a word or an insight.
I listen because I miss your voice. The voice that used to travel this hall. The voice that stretched across the room, then across the phone line, then across the screen. In these days.
I honor you.
Turning a Breath to the Unquiet Dead
It’s my breath that I settle first. In and out, traveling the raggedness on a day when things are heavy. Traveling (sometimes) in short bursts that give me enough oxygen to think, but not enough to feel.
In and out. The one thing I can control. I try to let a longer exhalation move me into stillness. Move me away from fear and anxiety. Tell my body to relax and let go. To be here. Even now.
I drop my thoughts from my mind into my heart. Where I connect with my dead. With my beloved dead. With the Mighty Dead. I breathe and drop my thoughts into the deepest chambers, the ones that carry and release. Beat by beat.
I travel to the space of path and movement. In my mind’s eye, I open to the journey that invites me forward and away. That allows and widens. The crunchy leaves under steps. From here to there.
I allow. I trust. I surrender.
I settle my steps until I am where I need to be. Where you are, maybe. Where your scent still lives. Where I can still feel your skin on mine. I relax into you. Sometimes one of you. Sometimes all of you.
Dropping back into your arms or your last words, I open.
It might be minutes or hours. It might be a moment. What is time anyway?
We dance together. We look deeply into each other’s eyes and we know. We remember. We live together in this sacred space.
I hear you tracing my skin with instructions. With reminders. With challenges. With love.
I do not want to return.
But I do.
My eyes open and I remember it all. You still live in me.