January 31, 2019 my father in law, Dave, passed away. I don’t always know the right thing to say, especially during tough times. Losing Dave hit me hard and the only way I could process my feelings was to write.
It turned out to be this poem.
Reimagining the Unthinkable
Life is bittersweet. And, life has a weird way of playing games on us.
One moment, you can be on cloud nine.
And, the next… well, you may as well curled up in the fetal position on the floor while crying your eyes out.
But, I guess life is full of opposites. This analogy of life as bittersweet is a prime example of polarity. Dichotomy. Or, two extremes.
In our current world, we see life as a series of extreme possibilities.
Good & bad
Right & wrong
Peace & war
Day & night
Happiness & sadness
And, the most finite of them all – Life & death.
Why is it that our world is filled with these opposites? Perhaps, life wouldn’t be so beautiful without extremes, such as – You & me.
Interestingly enough, extremes are often referred to as one end of the spectrum or the other. On one end, we find ourselves in the first part of the extreme, soaking in happiness. Then, in the next moment, we find ourselves on the opposite end, full of sadness.
The same could be said for life and death. In our current world, we see life and death as a linear process. You start with life and end with death. We see death as a finality. This makes it scary, upsetting, and sad. In a word, unbearable.
Unfortunately, regardless of the feelings attached to death, it is inevitable.
But, many extremes are not linear, as we so often think. Could it be that these extremes are a shape, such as a circle?
In fact, we refer to our existence as a part of the circle of life. Despite hearing this colloquialism several times before, I never gave it much thought. But, perhaps this saying came along because life and death really take place in a circular fashion?
Think about that for a moment. A circle has no beginning. And, it has no end. This explanation of life brings about a new sense of hope.
So, instead of believing death is final or the opposite of living. Or, even, a consequence of a life that has ended. I want to believe there is something more. A reimagined way of thinking about life and death.
It is said in Egyptian culture, death is not a word. Death, instead, is referred to as Westing. When a life is lost, the soul falls in the Western sky with the sun. Then the stars rise in the East. And, with each passing day, the sun returns. Over and over again, as the circle continues.
This concept is how I want to look at life – Death is not a final event. But instead, a continuation of this great existence we refer to as life.
As one journey comes to an end with the setting of the sun, another more magnificent journey begins as the stars appear in the night’s sky. One that continues and allows our journey to exist over and over again.
Westing brings hope that we can go on with our lives despite the absence of the physical presence of our loved ones. And, allows us to reimagine the unthinkable.
By imagining life as a circle with no beginning and no end, we create an existence where we no longer suffer. Because suffering is only for those left behind after someone dies, in a final situation. They become wrapped up in the concept of death which fills the heart with aches and pains due to the finality.
Moving past the unsettling feelings of death can be hard when we have always thought of it as a life lost. But, reimagining death as part of a continuous experience gives me hope I am not alone.
While I’m tempted to say goodbye, as I would when death is considered a final situation, I don’t want to because I am optimistic that there is something more. I believe we will eventually be reunited to enjoy one another’s company again.
Life is lived one moment at a time. Which leads to one day, followed by another. In this moment, I enjoy the memories we shared. And, that helped me to press forward in this life without you in the physical form, day after day.
As the sun sets in the West and the stars shine, I know you are there watching over me. Thank you for being my guiding star in the sky – until we meet again as a part of our journey in this circle of life.
I love you. Always have. And, always will.
Last Updated on November 3, 2021 by Kristi Coughlin