I am not sure how to do this when a friend dies. A friend died last week. At the age of 38 she self-medicated to death. Alcohol was the immediate cause, but was aided by decades of using every substance she could find in efforts to relieve her pain. I am being very judgmental here, but W's mother, with her own excessive drug use and abandonment of W must surely have been a factor in many of the decisions W had to make in her life. She leaves behind a daughter who is connected to no one except for W's boyfriend, who is an exceptionally decent and loving person. But, even he did not have the power to help
W overcome a lifetime of the other crap. We became friends when we worked at our art in a gallery/school place. Over the years I was more mothering-focal resource than true friend. I heard from her when she needed something. I gave when I could, declining when the request was more than I could emotionally bear. I became a minister when she wanted me to marry her and her boyfriend. That did not work out, in my feelings that was fortunate, but I can still marry and bury people, and baptize. She is not truly gone, just not here anymore.
I believe in an existence larger than our fleshy lives. My daughter used to tell me that I was rationalizing about some of my beliefs concerning life. That was fine, still is, as she was much younger and still discovering her own beliefs. My best guess is that she still thinks me kind of whacked, something I am not willing to verify.
My belief is that we exist prior to living here. Before our birth into this life, we have full knowledge of everything we need to ever know. We have access to wisdom that transcends those who might be considered wisdom figures. Then, after the flesh melts away, we return there, to that place.
I believe that we choose our life here, the good, the glorious, and, perhaps, most especially the sad and painful and horrible. We choose joyfulness because that is one of the two precepts of living. We are here to be happy and we are here to be of service. I am not all that proficient about finding and holding on to happiness, my skills in that arena are lacking some essential energy, some fire for living fully and embracing good stuff, fun things. Maybe I am not looking in the right places. Maybe happiness is not to be part of the experience of this particular life. I think that I am wrong about happiness. I think that it is there, just waiting for me to get over myself and plunge into wherever it is.
A few thoughts about other lives. Reincarnation, if you will, something I am not sure about. I never believed in it, although I carried beliefs about all sorts of things that are much more unimaginable. I have ridiculous beliefs, and proud of it. Like marriage. Anyway, I thought it all rubbish until I remembered two previous lives. I do not have much of an imagination. Oh, sure, I can recount what actually happens to me, often eventually making some good sense of it, and I can immerse myself into books like nobody's business. I know that other people love books, too, but there are moments when I feel like I am the only creature who is able to fully experience the lives of the characters.
But, creating my own fiction, my own darling and precious and fucked-up characters is beyond my ken. And, believe this as well, I have tried. Autobiography, relating actual events, helping other people put down and make sense of their own life stories, all of that I can do. Empathy is my imagination. Fact, even extraordinarily difficult and painful fact is my strength.
Even adding or crafting bits of fictional flotsam is beyond my comfort and abilities.
Even trying to craft fiction simply becomes another life experience that never moves beyond the writing of words, the stressing of whatever imagination I might have, struggling to incorporate truth into the pages, and is an exercise in failure.
Stories of life after life experiences were just stories, fictions to me. Then, I remembered two complete lives. It happened during one of the many periods when I was doing inner work in order to be a good wife and trying to understand how I was failing my husband. I did that a lot. I mean, we all know that I never got that right, but I hope that I learned something about myself that can be helpful to me now.
Those two lives are much too tender to share. There was good in them, as well as important struggle. There was heart. In one I was loved, in the other I was despised during a period in time when who I was was a much despised kind of person. The clarity of remembering, the details and the flow of ordinary days and ordinary tasks and even more ordinary other people is the best part of those lives. They came to me fully realized, fully experienced, and I knew that I had been those people, lived those lives, just as fully as I had been living the day before the memories came.
I have chosen my life, this fleshly experience, and I know that W has done the same things, as has her mother, and her daughter, and mine, and all those who attend us and follow us.
It may be difficult to hold belief in one's ability and wisdom to choose how a life will be lived, how to manifest all of the changes and choices needed to learn something. Or, to have determined how one's life might proceed and then modify it, make other choices, exercise one's free will, and yet try to stay true to the original plan whatever the hell that was, being as I cannot recall any of the details. Maybe the best I can do is to stay intentional, attentive, doing what I can.
I know what it is like on this side of the experience, but I wonder what kind of person, being, consciousness would be willing to take on the role of creep or miscreant or abuser in the life of another person. Because, if we truly choose all of that future life stuff, then there has to be, what, some kind of mutual agreement to be the receiver and the giver.
Exchanging good life experiences surely must be much easier than exchanging bad crap. Surely. But, what quality of life, what part of wisdom sets up the construct for lives with lessons. Most religious practices offer much the same teachings. Things happen for a reason. I wonder sometimes where I began in that realm. If I have made any progress at all. If I have any chance of doing so.
I have another friend who witnessed something that my husband did to me. She tried to talk to me about it, but I denied the whole mess, and made a joke about there being a lesson in there somewhere. There was a long pause in the conversation, and I was making ready to leave and she said, "Maybe the lesson is to know when to give up." Well, I never did that. I am not a giving up kind of person. Perhaps I should be, but I just am not. And, when I did leave, it was not because I finally gave up, it was because, well, we know why.
It was making a choice to live, when it was so much easier to stay there and die. I am still saying goodbye to that other life. The legal stuff is nearly over, but my goodbyes are legion and I will be bidding farewell to all sorts of things for a very, very, very long time.
Goodbye, W. I am sorry that we could not be better, different together. I miss you and wish you well and wealth and wisdom in your journey.