That’s all I could think yesterday as I watched friends and my husband carry Mark in his cardboard casket, complete with farewells and love notes we all wrote on it, toward the hole in the ground. “Life is dangerous” continued to put out alerts in my mind throughout the small ceremony that morning at the edge of the woods where the green cemetery began while I stood them next to my crying daughter and surrounded by about 100 of Mark’s friends and family. Later, I felt the samething back at our house where we hosted a post-burial potluck while I sliced giant cucumbers from the garden or mixed up more limeade. I was so struck by this sense of danger that I had a hard time making conversation, staying on task or even staying awake.
Late afternoon, I still was overcome with that shaky feeling so I did the only sensible thing I could think to do: I went to the movies to see “Toy Story 3.” First, I got the mail, in which my daughter received her roommate assignments for college, which suddenly emboldened the “life is dangerous” mantra: she was really leaving, and although I was thrilled for her new adventure, I also knew how this too would feel like a loss at first, maybe already. Then I drove through a hell of a thunderstorm, running through the theater parking lot with thunder behind me. The movie itself was excellent, but its theme was, no surprise, “life is dangerous”…..for toys, and humans. Life involves change, loss, new beginnings, no control and the gifts that come when people want to play with us again.
Back home, late at night, lying in bed still awake, I felt that trembling unpredictability and tried to reason it out. In so many deaths of friends and family, I could rationalize, tell myself this person was ready, it was his or her spiritual path, the time was right, the suffering was over. But with Mark, all I know is that he was pretty darn healthy for a 77-year-old year, excited about getting his knee replaced and had a lot more mileage in him. I can’t find a reason or way to put this to peace.
What I have found this day is the light of our community being together in this dangerous knowing, the changing sky that brought a long-awaited storm, and how the roses a friend gave me to acknowledge my grief are now opening wide. Angels are terrifying and beautiful, Rilke wrote, all at the same time.