We each have an image in our mind that signifies the moment when death comes calling. For some it is the warm arm of darkness beckoning, ever beckoning. Others see death in the seasons, in the last leaf that falls to the ground, its brilliant color sinking into the musky earth. For me today, death appears as light shining through an open door, casting its white fingers onto the dark floor of our fears.
My friend Mary White is at the threshold of this door, within days of walking, or in Mary's case, singing and dancing her way through. I wake in the night with Mary on my mind and in my heart. I have regrets, the usual regrets when a dear one is near death. Why didn't I make the trip up to see her in September as I'd said I would? Why didn't I call her just to talk, or sing together, or even read poetry to one another as Mary so loved to do? But I can hold tight to the day this past July that we spent together, the bright sunny summer day when we sat on her couch and read Pablo Neruda's Odes aloud to one another. I will always have that. (to see our photo CLICK HERE
But the image of Mary White that I'd like you to hold in your heart is one that I took on October 2, 2004 when we were with our O Beautiful Gaia Great Lakes women's community at Windsor, Ontario's Ojibway Nature Centre (CLICK HERE
to see it). This shows Mary as she looked in her fullness of life, a wise woman who danced on the winds of spirit, truth and love. Our planet has been graced by her presence, and although I know Mary will continue to shine through the lives of all who have known her, her physical being will be sorely missed.
Mary White has always loved the poet Mary Oliver (two Mary's). In honor of my friend, I'd like to share Mary Oliver's poem, "When Death Comes":
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
by Mary Oliver