I got the news that she had passed and the wave of sadness gently began to roll in. I would not be surprised to hear it was a drug related death, that was the way she had been recently, awash in a sea of drugs. Knowing that does not soften the blow as I think back to the woman she was before. I was fifteen when she told me I was like her and I would always be a smoker. She was right and she was wrong. I was seventeen when she told me how her son saved her life as he and I scavenged for Easter eggs in Des Montes, he was a perfect two year old excuse for me to engage in childish activity. He was an even better excuse for her to stop using and to try to put the pieces back together. I was in my late twenties when I saw her beginning to fall apart again while I was slowly trying to put myself together. Since then I have felt the waves of grief rise and fall in the wake of countless drug related deaths, nothing to be done about now, for them.
My wise mother always says, “No one has the corner on suffering.” She is right, and yet what we do in the face of our stories is where we set the stage for the outcome of the tale. I am a smoker, in that I have an addictive personality. I no longer smoke, but that does not mean I don’t want to. If I were to light a cigarette I would be a full-blown smoker again in a day, I know this about myself. I also know that like all my friends who died of over doses, it could have been me. So why wasn’t it? Because somewhere along the way I realized that did not have to be the choice I made. I realized there was more to all my hurt and pain and I wanted to know it, I wanted to feel it, I wanted to integrate it into a story with a happy or happier ending. We are all going to die after all.
My sister wisely said, “She is in a better place now, free from all that pain and turmoil.” They all are, and we all will be to when we leave these mortal bodies. Yet the real challenge, the one that can make us or break us, is to find that freedom while in this flesh.
My friend called last night to say her brother od’d over the weekend. So many fall to drugs. I think of the Lauren Hill song, “I used to love him, but now I don’t.” Remembering when drugs were new, exciting, fun, now all that is just awash in a haze of nostalgia and naivety. Many of the people in my memories of the times I used to love drugs are now dead. And yet, there was a gift in those experiences, an opportunity to see beyond the veil and into the depths of consciousness, heart, anger, and fear. Just like everything though, too much is too much.
I will always be a smoker, but I refuse to always be trapped in a story or lifestyle of limitation. I will always feel the loss of my friends and loved ones who could not find their way to freedom in these bodies, but I will not see those losses as a reason to give up hope for every other human on this planet including myself. It always makes sense to me to learn something from that which cuts deeply and what I take away from this loss is the remembrance to make good choices, life affirming choices, life enhancing choices…and not to judge the pain of others.
My heart yearns to hug her and tell her it’s all ok, but I know she knows that now. So I share it with you instead. No matter how big the scar, how deep the cut, how sharp the pain, it is all ok, it is all a gift, it is all an opportunity to know a deeper freedom, a more spacious spirit, and a more loving heart.
With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving,