WHY DO WE DIE? As I stand on the dock holding a dried long stem rose, I reflect on the events that led me to this moment….

In December my dear friend Christine posted something on Facebook. I don’t actually remember the exact comment, but the words Artist’s Way jumped off the screen and smacked me in the face. I reply; “The Book?” “Yes the book.” Something in me stirred.

I had just recently held my copy as I packed up my cherished possessions while preparing for the sale of my house that once again my memories and the book were tucked away.  Buried along with my postponed dreams of being a writer. The book, recommended in 2006 by my then creative muse, Dennis, an artist friend and a musician, had been tucked away for years, until 2011 when my grandmother died. I had taken the book out with hopes of living my dream after she passed away. I had to make sense of her death. Why do we die? So many wonderful things had been said about her. So many people’s lives she touched and so many she generously gave all she had to offer. She had purpose.  I had three wonderful children. I had amazingly supportive family and friends while I went through the end of a failed marriage. The thought haunted me, WHO AM I? I want to write a book about my experiences but I suppose responsibilities took the reins and though I dabbled into a few morning pages and an assignment or two, just like the past, the book was tucked away while I withered deeper into this empty space I called life.

December 26th. I remember clearly because this ironically was the day before my friend Dennis’ birthday. It pleased me.  He inspired me then and Christine awoke what lied dormant. With an eagerness I ran to the spare bedroom to dig for my treasure. Enthusiastically, I ripped off the lid of the tote box and pulled out the book that was laying beneath unfinished journals that I started when I was pregnant with each child.  Though I wrote regularly then, the entries became sporadic over time, there are barely enough words to share from all the years of my pride and my love for them. I was scared. I held the book against my chest. WHO AM I? Why now? Is this just another false hope? Another reminder that I failed? I flip through the pages and there was a photo of my beloved grandmother, my best friend for so many years, attached to her obituary. A reminder to me of who I want to be like. Against this page of endearment was a single long stem rose. I shared a brief summary of this happenstance with Christine.

The day of my Grandmother’s funeral, I took a rose before we closed the casket. I wanted to remember her face (and unwillingly the forced image of Dean Martin who was there beside her in an autographed 8X10 framed version of her true love) while I knelt beside her with our rose, I kissed the index finger of my right hand, caressed the rose and touched my heart and then pressed my finger against her lips. –Silently- Good night Grammy Doodles, tucking your blanky under your chin, kiss on your forehead, happy dreams, I love you infinity.  *ALRIGHTY * How I will miss saying our goodnight routine knowing this would be the last time. Even more, not ever hearing your voice again. I stood up and didn’t realize so many were tearfully watching me. They all knew she was my best friend.

I stand on the dock and toss first the leaf and loose petals that separated over the years into the air. They disbursed in different directions. For a brief moment, I was troubled. In my mind, a few days ago, I decided this to be my artist date, the scenario I imagined was of them staying together and drifting along as one.  Naturally it didn’t go as planned though most did meet my expectations, two did not. One was blown against a cypress knee and scared a brown anole. As the other flew backwards and onto the dock, I picked it up extended my arms out and twirled as I laughed and released it again. Each parted in different directions and different speed on the river as if each carrying all the memories like a timeline of this wonderful woman’s life made to be shared infinitely. The toughest part was yet to come yet I need to do this. I feel like this will unlock all that has held me back.

With our long stem rose in my left hand, I caress it with the same index finger I used on our final goodnight kiss. I took it with my right hand and gently pressed it on my heart and took a breath knowing this was the last time I would touch our flower. The flower that held me captive as the single most physical loving connection of my Grammy Doodles.  In the warmth of the sun, I raise it high. The backdrop of a clear bright blue sky brings me peace. The glorious song of the birds make this moment a magical tribute. Serenity. On my left, the branches of the Big Ole Cypress hang over the river. Spanish moss dangles low, dancing and swaying in the breeze to the music of this final dance. I let the wind catch the once vibrant velvety red petals. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath until the rose fell on the river creating a ripple that embraced it. I exhaled watching the energy disperse larger rings spinning it and allowing it to move with grace. The rose spun as it drifted, rotating until the compressed bud led the stem. I watched it flow as did the tears down my cheek until I couldn’t see it anymore. I’ve held onto this flower as if I was keeping that day from being final. When I was young, I use to think death was the end. As I grew a bit older, I believed that death became new life. Today, as the river flows and transports that single flower I preserved in my possession for all these years, I realize I have blossomed.  I am free. I understand that life and death are one. The day we are born, we begin to die. The question is not Why Do We Die, but rather HOW DO WE LIVE?

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