Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's been real

Dear 2008,
We need to try to make some kind of peace. Otherwise we'll be at permanent odds and that won't help 2009 any. So, instead of New Year's resolutions, I need a resolution with the old year. So, here it goes...You have been quite a year to remember. And, yes, I say it with some bitterness and sarcasm. Financial markets fell, fortunes got erased, jobs were lost, betrayals appeared in vogue, friends divorced, relationships suffered from impasse, funerals became too frequent ... Bad things happened to good people.

I also say it with a good doze of gratitude and humility. A bit contradictory? Please, allow me to explain:
  • I am angry, heartbroken, and sad that my grandmother died this year. I feel that we could have spent much more time together. But I am grateful for the years we've been each other's soul mates and that I helped her take her last shower.
  • I am anxious about the time when I'll have to say good bye to my grandfather as well. Yet I am liberated from that fear by seeing him gobbling up life by fistfuls.
  • I am sad and guilt-stricken that my parents are far away, that my mom is ill and that she doesn’t know how lucky she really is. But I am aware that it’s a gift to have parents at all, and that Seattle is still closer than the heavens.
  • I am disappointed with myself for allowing others to dictate my view of the world, for letting myself forget my own set of values. But I feel lucky that I crawled my way out of the emotional and spiritual ditch.
  • I am still shocked by all the news of the “stable” and powerful financial giants crippled or dead. Yet I feel grateful knowing that my gut has some brains and I should always listen to it. Plus, I am wiser today than I was a year ago. I know for sure that everything unimaginable IS still possible.
  • This year, still, I haven’t become the mother I want to be. I am still haunted by my “shadows” of someone I would rather not know. Yet, I am uplifted because I know that I am forgiven…unconditionally and always.
  • This year I attended a record number of funerals and I learned that I hate the smell of funeral homes. But despite it all, these experiences reminded me yet again to appreciate harder, to love better and live each day to the fullest.
  • I am still a bit breathless from the feeling cold metal of the mammography machine pressing against my breasts and the chilling thoughts of “what if”. But I am counting my blessings, thank God and breathe out.
  • I am still searching for wisdom and Light. But I am more at peace now because I am beginning to realize that the journey itself is the reward.
I remember, back in high school, one of my first friends was this American boy who wore torn jeans and a baseball cap backwards. We were both in the same summer history class, only for different reasons. I was there because I was a new immigrant who didn’t speak English, but there were no ESL classes in the summer and the school officials had to be put me somewhere. My friend was there because he failed history in the Spring semester and had to make it up, otherwise he wouldn’t see the 11th grade. We helped each other – he knew English, I knew history.

When we finally finished six grueling weeks of summer school, he extended his hand and said, “Good luck, Rina. It’s been real!” I said, “What? Real? I don’t understand." The boy smiled, “Yeah. It’s been real. You know, it means, ‘it has been pretty shitty, but it’s over, so no hard feelings’. Got it?” We shook hands and parted our ways. But I’ve never forgotten the phase.
So, Dear 2008, it’s been real. No hard feelings. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for the lessons.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The great equalizer

Today, for the first time, I saw what a non-sectarian cemetery looks like. I can't stop thinking about it.

When we drove through the gates, my eyes kept searching for the mausoleums, angels made of marble and monuments of various size. But I found none of it, except for grass, trees, open and peaceful space all around.

I looked closer. There were small plaques on the ground with the names and dates. Some were carrying small religious symbols.

We all walked into a beautiful modern building at the center of the cemetery. Embarrassed by my ignorance, I asked "what's the process does it all work? (me and my constant need for the plan and the process...) The cemetery employee handed me a rose and said "you just say good bye and place a rose on the casket, if you want to. We'll take care of the rest..."

Now, sitting at home, I can't stop thinking about all of it. The wide rolling fields of green grass, tall trees and small plaques. No one stands out here. Everyone gets the same amount of space. It just seemed so peaceful, so right. Is that how God, the Higher Power, the Guiding Light intended it? Even though it was a non-denominational, non sectarian cemetery, I felt closer to God there than in many other places. I could hear a gentle whisper in the air, "You are all my children. I love all of you deeply and equally".

Non-sesectarian, non-discriminatory, a place where "they take care of everything", even the mysterious Her Highness Death - The Great Equalizer.