Death Ever Present

by Exener


Today I am grieving. This is the word I've been looking for to describe what I am feeling. It takes me by surprise, really. And, why should it? Because sometimes I am blind to what is right in front of me.

Death is ever present.

Death of a most incredible woman I have ever had the honor of knowing, Jeanne. Jeanne, who was my second mother growing up.

Death just around the corner for my uncle, Sam Garcia, who introduced me to the desert landscape which I love so dearly.

Death imminent for a beautiful wild creature, just one of millions killed every day.

Death of my baby of 17 years, who is forever present and walks with me, who I speak of as if she's alive.

And, then, of course are the multitudes of metaphorical deaths which occur day after day.

I have returned from a memorial service feeling totally dismembered. The disparate parts and pieces of my life making themselves seen and known this day. There are periods in my life and people with whom I interact during those periods... how do they come together? I assume I become the focal point... and, this day, I feel that the focal point is not present. Rather bits and pieces strewn all over the place... this being my life.

Some writings on death:

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
And he said...
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust your dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stand before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honor.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?
Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

--Kahlil Gibran

Jeanne Ebinger was brought home from the hospital to die in the home of her only daughter, Liz. The 9 Ebinger kids were all in attendance in the last days of their mother's life here on earth. This truly touches my heart... as it gave them the opportunity to give, unselfishly and lovingly, to their mother as she gave to them year after year. I remember Mrs. Ebinger as my second mother. If I was not at home, I'd likely be found at the Ebinger's house. She was a strong woman, a knowing woman, and treated me and my brothers as her own brood.

Mrs. Ebinger raised those 9 children almost single-handedly, as Mr. Ebinger was stationed in the Pacific Islands for most of his career in the Merchant Marines. She was a native San Franciscan and was as dedicated to her home town as she was to her children. I heard the story that she cut short a trip to New Jersey so that she could come home to give birth to her second son, Rodney, as she was determined that all her children would be native San Franciscans, just as was she.

There are many points where Mrs. Ebinger touched my life. Mostly through her children with whom I'd roam the neighborhood, and also through her open door policy and acceptance of so much, her peace with who she was, her strength. And, not least of all, her deep love for San Francisco. The City with whom I resonate so deeply.

Wherefore we do not lose heart. On the contrary, even though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For our present light affliction, with us for the moment, prepares for us an eternal weight of glory that is beyond all measure; while we look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are not seen. For the things that are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.

--II Corinthians 4:16

There is forever and always the life and the death. The moment I was born, I began to die. Thus both exist within me. I am dying as I am living.

Until we can entrust ourselves to death, we never really entrust ourselves to life. We remain slaves, attached to the body, trapped in deadly egocentricity. "To accept the fact that you perish in time is a sort of victory over time"...Jung. To accept death like birth, as a part of life, is to become truly alive. "Not wanting to live is synonymous with not wanting to die. Becoming and passing away are the same curve. Whoever does not accompany this curve remains suspended in the air and grows numb. From middle age on, only he remains alive who is willing to die with life."...Jung.

--Nichols, Jung and Tarot

It is the dance... the dance of life, the dance of death. There is no difference, really... I will choose to live my life to the fullest, if not for me, for those who pass into death. Thus the balance will be kept.

My uncle, Sam, lived in Barstow for much of his life. He was a great lover of the desert, most at home when in the expansiveness of this terrain. Always exploring, always at peace... when in the desert that was his home. When I was a kid, we had tortoises as pets. Sam gave them to us. This was a time before they became endangered and he would go to the desert and scoop them up... after awhile, he no longer needed to do this, as they would give birth to little tortoises... in Sam's yard and he'd have babies walking around everywhere. Oh, those tortoises are Sam's babies! As surely as his own children.

We would visit the Garcia's often as a child. I'd go out with my uncle Sam, in his Jeep, deep into the desert which was his backyard. This is where I learned of the beauty and richness of the desert. It was teeming with life... if one only took the time to look and see and feel. This is what my uncle, Sam, gave to me. And it is now become a place where I can find the deepest comfort and solace... where I become one with the Divine... where I feel touched by Spirit...

Thank you, Sam... from the core of my being.

And, now, I must immerse myself in these places of death and dying. There is no other way for me. It is present and to deny it would be certain death.