The Dying of the Year

We’ve passed the Autumn Equinox. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. The leaves are turning colors and falling from the trees. It is the dying of the year.

The Dying of the YearAnd we have a family friend who is dying. He’s been a part of our lives for… more than eight years, at least.

Jeff contacted my husband and me separately, about different interests, when he and his wife, Lani, were looking at moving to the Comox Valley. We were corresponding by email for several months before my husband and I figured out we were talking to the same person, just before they arrived.

We weren’t able to visit as much as we may have liked, as they lived on one of the smaller Islands when they first moved here, and ferry schedules are a thing. We discovered a lot of similar interests, from theatre to spirituality to tabletop and role playing games (those last two are more my husband’s interests than mine, though I’ve been known to play from time to time).

A couple of years ago, Jeff learned he had cancer. He’s been a trooper through several rounds of chemotherapy, and he was managing well. And then, this summer, he took a turn for the worse.

Though we were going out of town for the weekend, we took time to visit him in the hospital, because the doctors gave him days, or at most weeks, to live. Over the weekend, he improved, and the days turned into weeks, and possibly months. Husband and I (he more so than I because of my work schedule), regularly went to visit, and help our friend’s wife with whatever she needed help with – physical and emotional support.

jeff-2Jeff was improving, and they began looking at moving him into a nursing home, while we did what we could to assist Lani.

This weekend, he was moved to Hospice care. He took a turn for the worse. Jeff graduated this life at 7:53 pm last night.

He was not afraid of death. Neither am I. When one has lived a good and full life, there is nothing to fear in passing from this life, just as the trees do not fear the loss of the leaves.

I am honored to have shared a portion of his life. I will grieve his passing for my loss, not for his. For him, I will celebrate his good and full life.



A Day to Remember

There’s been a lot of talk on Facebook in the last week about red poppies vs. white poppies. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been following it. At all. Other than noticing it in my feed.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the military as an organization, especially the way it has been used in recent years. Before you get upset with me, let me clarify – I have an immense respect for the people who follow their calling to defend their fellow humans. Several members of my family are ex-military, and I have many friends who either were, or still are, members of the armed forces. I whole-heartedly appreciate their sacrifices and their service.

A Day to RememberTomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada (Veteran’s Day in the US). I like that term – Remembrance Day. It’s a day to remember those men and women who gave their lives serving their countries. It’s a day to remember the men and women and children who have died in war. It’s a day to remember those who have passed on.

You see, I choose to focus on the remembering part, not so much the chest-thumping military parade part. I remember the stories my grandmothers told me about each of my grandfathers and the roles they played in WW2. I remember the stories of my father about his experience in the US Air Force (they aren’t glamorous). And I remember my husband’s cold war stories.

Tomorrow my family will be heading out to the Legion in a small town south of here to see the parade and connect with my husband’s aunts and cousins. It’s the one time of year that we get to see most of them. We will be remembering my husband’s grandfather, who contributed to building that particular legion hall, and his wife. We will revisit family memories, and catch up on what we have all been up to in the past year.

There’s a reason we remember at this time of year. Take a look through different cultures, and you’ll see that there are a lot of holidays at the end of October and the beginning of November that honor the dead – Halloween, the Day of the Dead, Remembrance Day…

If you take a look around at the natural world around you (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), it’s easy to see why. Trees are losing their leaves, and animals are going into hibernation, gardens are dormant. Death is all around us.

Pagans say that at this time of the year the veil between the worlds is thinnest. It is the time when it is easiest to connect with those who have crossed over. The easiest way to connect is to remember. Look at photographs, re-read old letters, share their stories. Remember, and give thanks for the many ways they contributed to you being where you are today.