On All Souls


All Saints Day, and tomorrow, All Souls. I know you’re in there, somewhere between the saints and the souls. Maybe all of us are saints in some surprising and secret ways: what we get through, what we turn from, what shapes and sharpens our love for life, what we sacrifice. No one can really know what it takes for someone else to make it through hard times. Maybe you were an everyday saint. Maybe I am, too.

Lately, the sharp, searing edge of knowing you’re not here is pressing against my heart, burning itself into my awareness in a way I was hoping to avoid. My eyes see a world that you’re not in, no matter where I look. My ears remember, so happily, the sound of your voice. My arms know just how to press you into a hug and hang on tight. All these parts of me are afraid. Of the truth.

You’re not coming back. You’re not coming back? I don’t know how I can ever stand this. Really, it has felt like you have just left the room of this life to go get something. And everything has been waiting, holding its breath, until you return. How could I be breathing the air of a world without you? What would that possibly nourish? Certainly not me.

I’m still trying to find you; reading about the Bardo: the time, described in Tibetan Buddhism, when the soul leaves its body behind and waits, and learns, and finishes with its just-completed life. Is purified, and travels toward its next incarnation. But the Bardo only gives you forty-nine days, and that’s not enough. Here it is, more than a year since you’ve been gone, and I still feel you. I don’t know if you’re really here, but I can’t imagine two lives could be so intertwined and rooted in the heart and then just come apart. So I’ll keep reading. Maybe the mystics have more to say, or maybe there’s nothing to say. Maybe there’s only this: the odd, remarkable, unbelievable, stunning reality of being here, and then gone. What?

Our love room is thick with questions, and the still-shocking possibility of the end.

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