(After a long day at work. Three “claims” calls – individuals calling in to let the company know that their loved one has passed away. One was a woman in her late thirties. Her husband died four days ago. What kind of hell is it to wake up these past three mornings in a world where one you love is no longer there and you are a single mother of two children?
I’ve taken to reading this blessing from John O’Donohue after I’ve completed one of these calls. It offers a space to pause and enter into that person’s pain, a space to memeto mori – to remember death, that my own death is not within the bounds of my control. It allows a moment to gaze on darkness and pain and their inherent beauty.)
From the moment you were born,
Your death has walked beside you.
Though it seldom shows its face,
You still feel its empty touch
When fear invades your life,
Or what you love is lost
Or inner damage is incurred.
Yet when destiny draws you
Into these spaces of poverty,
And your heart stays generous
Until some door opens into the light,
You are quietly befriending your death;
So that you will have no need to fear
When your time comes to turn and leave.
That the silent presence of your death
Would call your life to attention,
Wake you up to how scarce your time is
And to the urgency to become free
And equal to the call of your destiny.
That you would gather yourself
And decide carefully
How you now can live
The life you would love
To look back on
From your deathbed.