catalenamara (catalenamara) wrote,

"Blessed Are..."

It was just about a year ago when my friend Karen passed away. It’s amazing how quickly time passes – cliche, but very true. It truly does not seem like 12 months have gone by, and yet they have.

I spent a big chunk of today in the ER – her widower called me and asked me to take him there. He’s been rundown from bronchitis, and I was very worried about the state of his health earlier this week. Fortunately, they were able to help him in the ER, and he didn’t need to be admitted to the hospital.

I’ve been in a really contemplative mood these days... I know so many people who have lost friends and relatives over the past year. And some have gone quite suddenly, like Karen.

For several months after she passed away I went over a couple of times a week to help her widower, who is disabled, with various things. (That's now down to once a week, as Social Services have finally come through with some in-home help for him.)

One day, when I arrived, he asked for help for a task he just couldn’t face doing himself. Karen’s body was cremated, and when the mortuary delivered her ashes it was in a plain plastic container. Her cousin had donated a polished stone ‘urn’, which arrived a few weeks later. Now, it was necessary to transfer her ashes from one container to the other.

That was a moment of transcendent oddness... the combination of this pragmatic task with the realization that, when I transferred the plastic bag of ashes from one container to another, I was holding in my hands all that was left of my friend. Moreover, the size/shape of the two containers was not congruent, and in order to get the plastic bag inside the new container I had to push around the edges to reshape it to fit.

But I realized that these few pounds of plastic-wrapped dust was not all that was left of my friend. Her color pencil artwork hangs on my bedroom wall, and her spirit is there.

Her spirit is in her garden, as well – her favorite place on earth. And in my memories. And in all the other people whose lives she touched. And beyond, wherever we all go when we go past the limits of the flesh.

This song ran through my head after she died, and I’ve been thinking about it again recently. I thought I’d include all the lyrics.

(Words and Music by Joan Baez)

Blessed are the one way ticket holders
on a one way street.
Blessed are the midnight riders
for in the shadow of God they sleep.
Blessed are the huddled hikers
staring out at falling rain,
wondering at the retribution
in their personal acquaintance with pain.
Blessed are the blood relations
of the young ones who have died,
who had not the time or patience
to carry on this earthly ride.

Rain will come and winds will blow.
Wild deer die in the mountain snow.
Birds will beat at heaven's wall.
What comes to one must come to us all.

For you and I are one way ticket holders
on a one way street.
which lies across a golden valley
where the waters of joy and hope run deep.
So if you pass the parents weeping
of the young ones who have died,
take them to your warmth and keeping
for blessed are the tears they cried
and many were the years they tried.
Take them to that valley wide
and let their souls be pacified.

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