I knew it was coming, but there was still resistance. Isn’t there always? The pull to keep those we love here with us fights against the letting go.
The news of her passing was brought through the soft waves of a song weaving through the space between dreaming and waking.
All is calm
All is bright”
It took the repeat of this refrain, over and over again, and me growing irritated by its interruption, before the dawn of realization broke. She is gone. Her soul released back into the union of light.
“All is calm. All is bright.”
Somehow she knew I needed to hear it from her, first. The delivery, perfect, as only she could create.
“All is calm. All is bright.”
I am holding onto those words as the hours pass into this first day without Sue in physical form. I am holding onto the memories that filter through the minutes to remind me of her love. Around my neck I wear one of her gifts, a symbol of the “Feathered Seer,” knowing there is a comfort that she has found reunion with the magic on the other side, and that already she has threaded it back to us.
“All is calm. All is bright.”
I need to hold onto those words, and so I do, because I am still not ready to think about the days ahead. And I know all of you who were graced by her presence will understand. For a tiny, “hobbit-sized,” woman, Sue had the capacity to hold an infinite amount of love in her arms. She was, and I know she knew this, an embodiment of the mother archetype many of us long for. How lucky I was to experience her unconditional love and grace, if only for a few years. How lucky I was to feel the embrace of her hug, knowing I was beloved in her eyes.
I am already missing her and she is not wholly gone. When I search for her presence, I find the soft emptiness of the liminal place. Holding. Waiting. I don’t want to think about grief, again. A prolonged letting go that takes me on a journey to uncomfortable landscapes. We grasp at the tangible only to discover that we will eventually reach the cliff of letting go, not knowing when we will arrive there.
And sometimes there is no liminal place to linger.
It is a test to step into the space of soft uncertainty and feel the soul cocooned between the life and death of the temporary vessel. I do not want to think about pain and heartache. Those sitting beside her, holding the space. Holding her hand. I do not want to think of the labored breath before it breaks free. Pain seems incredibly unfair for a life filled with such grace.
I want to think of what came before and what comes after. That vibrant spirit that touched so many lives with magic, including my own, finding joy once again. Yes, I want to think of joy. The unbound soul flying free.
The liminal place, I’ve decided is not a place of easy comfort. It is a place of searching through what keeps us bound, and what must be released to let go. It reminds us of what we hold, even when it is wrapped by love. And it reminds us that we can doubt the eternal as a condition of being human.
For me it feels uncomfortably empty even though it is filled with all that binds. It feels like a void. It feels like sadness before the final wave of grief that will eventually bring the joy of release without knowing how large and fierce that wave will be before it breaks.
Thursdays were days when Sue Vincent would post a photograph writing promptchallenge. In honor of this ritual, I have posted one of my favorite photographs of Sue, which I took two years ago during a shared trip to Wayland’s Smithy. It’s a photograph I hold dear. Filled with memory, magic and love.
I’m not sure if Sue knew I was taking this photo, but Ani sure did. The presence of these two beings made this afternoon extra special for me. Although I can count on my two hands the number of days I have spent with Sue, they rank among the very best of my life thus far. Sometimes you are lucky in life to encounter a teacher/mentor/friend who takes you under her wings and guides you in that gentle way to open your awareness to the magic that exists, but is not always acknowledged. I consider myself one of those lucky individuals.
I can’t tell you exactly when I first met Sue, or exactly how. But, I can tell you she entered my life just when I needed her presence. That is often the way these types of relationships occur. The teacher mysteriously finding the student, the student, the teacher, just when the moment is right…
If it were not for the internet, perhaps we would not have met, but I believe when there’s a will, there’s away. If you had told me twenty years ago that I would meet a woman named Sue who would lead me into the magical landscape of the soul and also the living lands of ancient Albion, I would probably not believe you. Yet somehow, one day, our paths intersected through our blogs, and the rest is our brief history in this lifetime together.
A lifetime that, I believe, stretches well beyond this one, to a far distant past when magic was not so extraordinary…
The photo featured in this post was taken just over two years ago. It almost didn’t happen, but somehow Sue managed to arrange an afternoon, packed full of magic, to take myself and a friend to Uffington. Here, Sue sits with her beloved dog Ani on the chamber of Wayland’s Smithy. It is, for me, a precious photo. The winged soul and her guardian canine in a place the bridges the realms of corporeal and spirit.
It is, most likely, our last day together in this lifetime. And somehow even though I’d like to have more days with Sue, it was fitting and perfect. As much as we may wish to, we cannot control the length of time we have with those we love and hold dear, yet when we review it, we often find that its length was perfect in its essence.
When I first learned of Sue’s illness, I cycled through the emotions of impending loss. There were moments when I decided it was wholly unfair, for Sue, for her family, for all those who love her, and for, selfishly, myself. Our adventures have only just begun.
But who am I to say how long a lifetime should be and when it should end? It is, instead, a choice to accept what one has been given and to realize the fullness of the gift wrapped in this temporary form. Knowing, at the same time, that infinity lies beyond the temporary form. For me there is peace in this knowing. When I look at this photograph, uncertainty disappears and faith takes its place. Although I may resist a plan that is beyond my control, with the surrender there is a doorway to the beauty of truth.
You can see it here. In the place of stillness, it opens. The winged soul bending down to touch the Earth, never truly leaves.
Today I met her guardian. The falcon stood in wait over her sleeping form, holding the liminal space. Waiting. Watching. Guarding. When I asked to see more, I was brought to the sands of time. Golden specks slipping through the hours, reminding me that I can get stuck inside the glass. Made up of the same elemental substrate that holds that ephemeral symbol of life, it is also an illusion of the mind. “You have seen the expanse,” he reminded me as the sand became that golden light forming a bridge to the stars, expanding out of the false container to spiral into infinity. Yes, I have seen it, but still I resist.
I am not good at Death. It is not a subject I have come close to mastering. I’ve got a history of stumbling through its lessons. When experienced the loss of my first grandparent to death (aside from the one that died before I was old enough to remember), I didn’t cry. Instead I felt the torment of our troubled past. Rocked into my armor, I listened to my mother announce the news through the corded phone like it was an annoying aside she had to pass on before she could talk about better things. Beside me, my college roommate looked worried, and later shocked when I told her it wasn’t a big deal. I would be fine.
Well I wasn’t.
A year before, my husband’s (at that time boyfriend’s) own grandmother had passed away and when I told my mother the news, she gave me a funny look. “You really cared about her, didn’t you?” Surprised by the tears stealing into my eyes. I couldn’t explain it if I had wanted to. We experienced only a handful of brief encounters together before her passing, yet in that brief time my husband’s grandmother had seen a truth inside of me that some who knew me since birth would never see.
Years later, death found me sitting in my office chair at work. Once again, the news was passed on by my mother, who was sitting beside death at her father’s bedside. Weeks before I let her convinced me I didn’t need to go with her. I wouldn’t recommend saying good-bye to a beloved grandfather from an office chair at work inside a cubicle that offers no escape into sorrow. That day there was no avoiding tears or pain. Or regret.
Years later, my grandfather tried to show me the impermanence of death’s form. Coming to me in spectral form, just once, to part the veil of dreams. It was enough, but it wasn’t.
When my beloved Daisy died on the 11th of February six years ago, I knew it was coming, but it didn’t make it any easier. Six months before, while walking together in the woods she told me she would soon be moving on. Wrapped in aura of violet light, my canine guide’s spirit shined strong and true. It still does. Two days ago, during a tough night, I saw her curled at the end of my son’s bed. Rarely now do I feel into her presence, yet she is still there for us when we need her. I have gradually loosened my hold over the years since her passing, but I resisted her leaving the corporeal world with a hold so tight I knew she lingered longer than she should have.
No, I am not good at the subject of death. I have fought with its teachings. I have failed its tests, and I have struggled to embrace its release. Now I find myself counting, once again, those false hours. Wondering if time will allow me a real goodbye. Horus turns his head to stare at me with eyes the color of night. His wings ruffle annoyance. “Why,” he asks, “after all we have shown you?”
For a moment time slips away and we fly back to that sacred chamber that holds a bridge to Earth. Wrapped in a copse of guardian trees, the light filters from the beyond. Once again, I see the white horse, waiting. Memory weaves light into my cells. “Was this not enough?” he asks me.
It should be. But I’m having a hard to accepting it. There are things I’d still like to say. Arms that still want to hold a temporary form. So many adventures that won’t be shared.
“Ridiculous human sentiment,” he scoffs at me and turns back to his guard. “Your perception is clouded by those human eyes.”
So I allow the salted waters to bathe them in their warmth. Cleanse, I urge. Clear my clouded sight.