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May 21, 2012

Life was good when ...

Water naturally flows downhill. Gravity pulls us toward the center of the earth during every moment of our lives. These downward flows and pulls are natural, as natural as the downward pull that grief can exert on us... and as inexorable. Just as a headstand or a cartwheel can reverse our blood flow, we need to make a point of exercising good, fun, treasured memories, because these help reverse the downward pull of grief. This doesn't come to us naturally at first. Yes, we usually gather and tell meaningful and fun tales about our loved ones in the days after a funeral, but as time goes by, it becomes more and more important to stop and turn our gaze toward the presence that was here and, frankly, turn our mind away from the emptiness that has moved in beside us, never to fill up again.

There is another reason to consciously turn toward our positive and fun memories of our loved ones. These memories often counter-balance our latest memories of seeing them being ill, injured, suffering from dementia, bearing the many "indignities" that the end of physical life can bring. We restore original, rightful dignity to our loved ones when we bring our celebratory memories to the shrine we keep for them in our hearts and minds.

I have poet Lynn Hoggard to thank for helping me see these things in an exceptionally clear light. You can read Lynn's post about her mother's courage and resolve as a teacher during the integration process that took place in the South here.

Lynn's poem, "Over the Top" had me laughing out loud... and remembering similar scenes with my mother and sister. So, here it is!


Over the Top

of our almost finished strawberry-icebox pie,
we were spraying, Mama and I,
whipped cream from a can that gurgled and spat
a clotted, fluffy moon

when all at once the can
leaped snarling out of Mama’s hand
and spewed milk-swirls on walls, floor, ceiling, and air,
on Mama and me

while we laughed and chased the crazed
wall-writing mooncalf around the room,
slipped in his drool,
and finally grabbed him, held him tight
              as he hacked a final moonchunk up—
                                                         and died.

                                                                                        -Lynn Hoggard

Poem copyright 2012 Lynn Hoggard, all rights reserved. Preceding text, copyright Ysabel de la Rosa.
Illustration by Mark Stay

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