Last week, just a few days after Buddy’s passing, I had a thought: “I am a death magnet”.
Here it is again. Loss, my old friend. The love and support that’s poured in over the last week has offered comfort beyond belief. But there was also a part of me that felt guilty (?) for needing it. I was tired of people needing to comfort me. I was tired of people feeling sorry for me. Some of this is driven by the inner saboteur, but I felt like an old office vending machine that keeps breaking down. I had a label on my forehead that said something like “Out of order. Again.”
When living beings die, time keeps going. People keep living, and laughing, and having fun, which can feel a little like salt in a wound as you’re neck-deep in a lake of grief and complicated emotions. How dare they enjoy themselves right now. Don’t they know what’s happening? Mourning is not optional. It’s a process that takes space and time, and patience. Processing loss, and everything that comes with it, is demanding. I want to rejoin my friends and family, but it’s ok to be in that lake right now. But I don’t have to be alone.
Buddy was such a cornerstone in our lives, woven into our most seemingly mundane daily moments. Everything I do reminds me of him. Yesterday, I went to a yoga class, and memories of doing yoga at home with him flooded my heart-- of him doing downward facing dog underneath my downward dog on my mat, peppering my face with kisses, and laying next to me during savasana. When he was a puppy, I couldn’t even work out at home. He would get too excited and hump me every time I worked up a sweat.
Everything that happens in our lives serves to teach us. Sometimes, things just keep hitting you over the head until you understand their purpose. I would give anything to have Buddy here with us, but I keep asking, “what lessons are here for me?”
After my mom died, I became fascinated with the dialogue around death. How do we talk about it? How is it presented to us? Where is it discussed? How are we prepared for it? Of course, I’ve continued to work with clients on finding purpose and gaining clarity in their lives. And in my work as a personal trainer and health coach, I teach people how to care for themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally-- not how to make an end of life plan. The calling was still there and now, after Buddy, it’s so much stronger. There it is again. We’re so accustomed to this physical plane, and the bluntness of physical and verbal communication. Sometimes the messages from the universe are much more subtle, but persistent as hell.
I was on the phone with my grandpa last week, and he asked me “Marn, where are you going to channel that energy now that Buddy is gone?”. I didn’t like the question. It made me face a world in which Buddy was no longer there and I was moving on. I’m not ready to move on. I’m not ready to divert the energy.
In my heart, I’ve often equated pain/suffering with love/honor. If a sad thing has happened, I needed to remain in the sadness at all times. Being under the blanket of sadness meant that I was properly honoring or recognizing the event, and experiencing happiness meant that I had forgotten and no longer cared. It’s taken me a long time to see that I can indeed hold mourning, remembrance, and joy all in the same space. I can let the light in.
I am no expert. And maybe I am a death magnet, or maybe I am just hyper-exposed and focused on an undeniable, inescapable part of living. But maybe this is also my gift.
You know what helped me the most after my mom? After my grandma, 2 weeks before our wedding? And now? Hearing peoples’ stories. Having people engage with me, unafraid to catch the illness of mourning. Talking about it (and talking some more). Crying when it came to me. Sitting with the emotions and understanding them. Letting the light in.
My experience with death has taught me so much about being alive. And it’s my purpose to share it with others. After a call this morning with my writing coach, the purpose seems more clear than ever. Buddy gave us so many gifts, and many of them are still to come. Right now, his gift to me is spirit, love, and presence in support of finishing my book. He is in my lap, fast asleep. I can feel his heartbeat on my thigh. He is my motivation to bring this vision to life.