When you get to a certain age, you start thinking about death. I think it’s the combination of seeing your own mortality drawing closer, and finding death to be somehow more inevitable than when you were a child. There is also the reality of having friends, parents, and loved ones die; writing wills; and seeing your body age and change. Death creeps into our lives until suddenly it is everywhere, and demanding our attention.
My family lost a number of pets this year, including our beloved labrador retriever Riley. Though the grief of losing an animal cannot compare to losing a parent or spouse, it did cause my children to ask the entirely reasonable question, “why did God put us here, if we just have to die?”
Which in turn forced me to come up with an answer.
I had to think about it for a little while, as parents sometimes do when asked hard questions. But in the end, the answer didn’t seem all that complicated.
I don’t think it really matters if you believe in a God, Goddess, many gods, or no god at all. I think that we are here to make the lives of people around us more loving. I think we are here to spread compassion and caring as long as we are able. I think we are here to create beauty, and when we die, I think it is the responsibility of those we leave behind to celebrate us and find grace in our living. To find the joy that we shared when we were here, and take that joy back with them into the world.
The world lost Lisa “L.K.” Madigan yesterday, and in losing her it lost a mother, wife, friend, and truly remarkable writer. I didn’t get to know her nearly as well as I had wanted, but what I did know was that she possessed a remarkable presence. She lived a life of grace and shared so much of the love that I think is our calling in this world. She was a beautiful person, inside and out.
In honor of Lisa, I would ask you to take a minute to breathe, to remember her with love, and then go on with your life with the intention of being more peaceful, more compassionate, and more joyful, at least for a little while.
And if you have another minute, please listen to the poet John O’Donohue read his beautiful poem Beannacht, which means ‘blessing’ in Gaelic.