As my friend and I unloaded groceries from our cars, she noted the glorious single white iris growing in my yard. Specifically, she pointed out its beauty.
Oh yes, I said, I saw it the other day. Isn’t it lovely. David sent it. From there we went about our work of preparing food for friends who were arriving soon.
Sometime later I remembered this moment and noted my matter of fact, unquestioning attitude about where the flower came from. It seemed so natural to me. My husband, David, died five years ago. He died on a beautiful day in early March. We had traveled to Charlotte, NC to visit his beloved sister. With no warning he had a heart attack. None of the attempts to revive him were successful.
The shock reverberated through our family and community for a very long time. David was one of those “larger than life” people. He was fully engaged in life. Whatever he embraced was to receive his full attention.
One of David’s many passions was gardening. He frequently would leave a flower for those he cared about. So many times over the years a flower would appear by my office door, in the kitchen, or by the bedside.
He was forever sending his love. It seemed perfectly natural to me to assume this lone flower growing by my door was from him.
In the days, months and even years following David’s death I struggled to come to terms with the reality that his life here had made its full bloom. I have learned countless lessons in the five years since his death. One profound lesson I have gained is this: while we will inevitably struggle against change such as losing a loved one, once we engage the change, our minds become wiser and our hearts become tenderer.
I read a quote recently that said stay alive to the changes in the terrain and trust the path as it appears before you. Don’t try to impose your map upon it. Now that is easier said than done, but as I find my way through this transistion in my own life, I can see the wisdom of these ideas.
We know that we will not live forever and yet when we lose someone or when our health is in question, we often react as though we had no idea this could happen.
At some point, I began to realize that I had a choice about the way that I responded to the loss of my beloved husband. I could struggle against it or I could fully engage the change and see what new seeds of my life would grow. None of this is without the pain of loss; that is as natural as it can be, and change is the most natural part of life.
In looking at all the changes that have occurred in my life since David’s death, it takes my breath away. Four new “little people” in our family, graduations, more deaths, new homes, new jobs and new people have all been a part of the journey since that day.
The cycle goes on and on. Endlessly.
Creation, sustenance, and dissolution.
This is the cycle of life. The fullness is in the way we embrace our life and in the way that we let go. We find fullness in the way that we engage the complete spectrum of life. This means ALL of life.
The seeds of potential are in the dissolving if we choose to see. That is difficult, yet, if we choose to ignore the dissolution, resist change and continually struggle against it, we are missing the life we have right now.
We miss the opportunity to full-out, engage the moment.
We miss the chance to create our own full bloom.
What does this serve?
It does not serve the ones that we lose. Those we love who pass away surely want us to continue to fully engage our life.
As for the iris, it is dissolving now, back into the earth. In its full bloom, it was truly glorious. That lone iris brought much pleasure and elight to us as it reached its full potential. As I have watched it dissolve over these last few days, I have felt a tinge of sadness to see this lovely gift fade away. I also felt overwhelming love and gratitude of the gift of this lovely flower’s beauty and for my beloved husband.
I am rooted deeply now into the knowledge that the cycles of life are profoundly wise, and that life is always becoming.
Post contributed by Jemme Stewart. With training in counseling, a medical background in psychiatric nursing, as well as experience as a yoga teacher, Jemme brings a unique and holistic approach to working with clients. The bringing together of what is valuable from Western teachings and Eastern teachings, has been the focus of her work over the last few years.
“With nearly forty years of experience working with families, individuals, and groups, not only do I continue to grow and study in my ﬁeld of interest, but I am passionate about my life work and devote myself to my own personal growth and the personal growth of my clients.”