Our Senses Whispering . . . Or Is It the Dead? (A Year-End Thought)

angel-statue

Certain laws of the universe just seem to never fail:

That if we’re looking for something we’ll never find it;

then suddenly when all effort is abandoned, there it is.

The guarantee that if the appointment is conveniently close to home,

we WILL be late to it.

And the absolute assurance, when someone we love dies, that themes of living, truly living,

not just sleepwalking,

are suddenly as loud as sirens.

 

They say to be devil-may-care when you’re young, and cautious when you’re older,

but I have begun to maintain the exact opposite.

Young is when you should organize and plan,

so that effective longevity stands a greater chance.

It’s when you’re older, and with fewer days ahead than behind,

that the attitude of “what do I have to lose?” makes more sense.

The older I get, the bolder I get.

It didn’t used to be that way.

I used to grow increasingly conservative as the years went by

and the hairs on my head began to lose their color.

A little more cautious,

a little more nervous,

the sense of consequences ever larger and clanging in my head.

But in this past year, a shift of some sort has happened.

And, yes, I am indeed growing more into the “what do I have to lose?” category.

 

I believe the reason is that a personal record number of people in my life passed on this year,

and the sheer volume of it has dizzied me.

And perhaps with how untimely so many of them have been,

I’m simply being nudged to move with more deliberateness in my gait.

Because, after all, tomorrow could be my last,

as it was (too young!) for so many I knew.

And then what would’ve been the point in my hesitation?

 

This isn’t a gloomy thought.

On the contrary; it is fresh with hope.

Ripe and rife with possibility.

Inspiration to be gleaned from the seeming senselessness of death.

It IS senseless, that death,

unless we, the ones left behind in life, choose,

through it and because of it,

to be awakened.

 

“Be nobody’s darling:
Be an outcast;

Be pleased to walk alone
(Uncool)
Or line the crowded
River beds
With other impetuous
Fools . . .
Be nobody’s darling;
Be an outcast.
Qualified to live
Among your dead.”
― Alice Walker

 

“And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly.
Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed.  They existed.  We can be.  Be and be better.  For they existed.”
― Maya Angelou

 

We are not born only once,

but many times over, when someone dies,

to a better level of ourselves,

climbing studied rung by studied rung,

to reach a self worthy of that death.

 

. . . At least we should be.

 

The Scottish song Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns

translates roughly to “times gone by,”

and was originally a commemoration song about loved ones past,

and never letting them be forgotten.

According to modern legend, Guy Lombardo popularized the song

when his band used it as a segue between two radio programs

during a live performance on New Year’s Eve in 1929.

Purely by coincidence, the song happened to play just as the clock struck midnight,

and a New Year’s tradition was born.

 

2014 was a rough year by just about all accounts of everyone I know,

and much of it had to do with death, for some cosmic reason.

So, as long as we’ve had to endure it,

it might as well not be in vain.

 

That’s up to us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, is a recipient of the Heritage/Soulword Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.

Nene & Me : A Love Story

Nene and me copy

Last night I spent hours going through all the footage from a (sort of) one-woman show I wrote and produced years ago called The Purple Sleep Cafe, and which I was fortunate enough to have filmed.   And I was going through the footage so that I could edit together an excerpt from the show that was about my relationship with my childhood friend and true savior during a difficult childhood.  I had idolized and now immortalized “Nene,” but she never knew about the show, as we’d lost touch in adulthood.   The last time I saw her (which was one of the only times since childhood) was at my mother’s memorial service twelve years ago.  We promised to keep in touch, and did for awhile, until eventually, as will happen, numbers got changed, leads ran dry, and we lost each other again.

She ran across my mind yesterday, and because of the advent of social media I realized the real feasibility of finding her.  So I excitedly culled through the show footage of my tribute to her, so that I could post it on YouTube.   It was actually a most joyous several hours of going back down Memory Lane, not only of the show I’d done (which actually climbed as far as Off-Broadway!), but of a childhood made special ONLY because of Nene’s presence in it.

The thought behind this effort was that I would get this footage up on YouTube, then find her on Facebook, reconnect, and send her the link to the video, which she has never seen.  It would be the perfect way back to her.

Today I went onto Facebook, and sure enough (as is the magic of Facebook), found her.  Only to learn, from a post that her daughter had made, that she passed away 6 months ago.   My stomach rushed up into my throat, and I’ve scarcely breathed since.   Who knew that in finally posting this footage, that it would end up being a memorial tribute instead of the entree into a reunion?

I sure do want to embrace the idea that true cosmic connections have occurred – that I would think of her, and put forth the labors to construct this gift, so shortly in the wake of her passing.   But I am, instead, bitter and resentful of my own gut and gumption not to have pursued finding her before now.  After all, how old is Social Media already?    That lesson we’re all taught, time and time again, of not waiting for inspiration, but leaping now?  How many more times do I have to lose someone without the chance to reach out, before finally getting that lesson through my thick skull?

I do realize I’m being very self-punishing right now.   The news is only hours old for me.   Perhaps I should’ve waited until I was in a better place to write here.    Except that I simply could not wait another instant to share this footage, to celebrate my friend, to lift her up, and call her glorious.   The bitter part of me says: “too little too late.”   The part that is full of grace says: “look at this remarkable gem that you get to keep forever, of this time in your life, this love of your life.”    I am grateful for grace.  And I am forever grateful for this love of my life.

This is a memoir of sorts, of one of the most special friendships I’ve ever had.

 

 

Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD.   Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.   Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.