There were 9 traffic related deaths in the state of Virginia over Labor Day weekend this year. 6 of those were not wearing their seat belts. One of those was my 23 year old cousin, Lucas. My mother told me early Tuesday morning that he'd been driving on a country road and had not survived being thrown from the vehicle late at night on Monday night. It is shocking. And of course, incredibly sad. Not as much for Lucas - I feel he is totally fine now wherever he is - but for my dear Uncle Ronnie and his wife Allene. You never met sweeter men than the men on my dad's side of the family, honestly. And for my uncle who'd been a confirmed bachelor until middle age to lose his only son just breaks my heart.
Death does not come easy or gently. For me, dealing with this one has somewhat tested my faith. Or at least, invited me to ask questions. Like, if I'm working from a Tantric framework in which we are all Light or Supreme Consciousness... what the heck happens to us after we die? Is Lucas now with some form of our grandfather and cousin who went before him? or are they all just merged again into the formless? And Why are Ron, Allene, and the rest of us being asked right here right now to know the Divine in this most painful face? No. I guess I don't really ask why because I don't really believe there is a why. More I ask: Is it all just simply random or do we have some sort of prior knowledge as we come in that these things are what we are signing up for? Do we agree to these trials or is it all infinitely changing? I know I would not choose this suffering for myself or anyone else... but I also would choose to have him in my life for even a short time, rather than not know him at all. Questions to ponder for lifetimes, I suppose.
Again I am reminded of the importance and the intimacy of my practice. It is a deep relationship with myself and with my mat and with that Other -- the Heart, the One, Shakti-Ma. Because it is the only small space of quiet in my day on the days when I can get there, it has been my place to mourn. Down dog dissolves into a tear soaked child's pose. In my past I think I would've fought this. Admittedly, Lucas and I were not close, we were in very different places in our lives. I would've thought I shouldn't feel these feelings, or I needed to "get on with things" and that doing some fancy pose was way more important than honoring my emotions. Today I'm just grateful. I'm grateful to have a time and a space and somewhere to go to release the pressure of a broken heart. I'm using the practice time as one more way to embrace myself as I am. It is one more time to say Yes to the twisting turning path of Life. Yes to my emotions (even sadness). Yes to myself right here right now.
Today my practice returned as a practice. Deep grounding poses and I felt a subtle release of the tightened chest.
I know that Lucas is at peace. My prayer is for the rest of us. May we too experience a sense of peace within this Life.
And always wear your seatbelt.