Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Life After Death - part 2

Laying on the table in my acupuncturist's office yesterday, I started wondering again as to whether or not there is an afterlife. I've pondered this question before on this blog. But this time, the question presented itself in a different manner.

I mean, how could there be an afterlife? I think of the negative traits of my grandmother - prejudices she held. I think of the unresolved conflict between my aunt and I. If there is an afterlife, wouldn't that imply that they carried their negative traits with them for an eternity as well?

As someone in an active process of dismantaling some of my character defects, I have come to realize that these negative traits are mine and will likely involve a life-long pursuit of extricating myself from them. But if there is an afterlife and I died with these traits unresolved, I wouldn't really exist without my characteer defects. But would I even want to?

Then my mind jumped to the memory of my Dad calling me before my grandmother died to tell me that she'd cried to him on the phone. He told me how frightened she sounded. I knew intuitively that she was dying. I felt suddenly panicked and desperate and scared. I had never seen nor heard nor even heard about my grandmother crying before. Perhaps those tears were her last gift to me. May I not wait until my last few days of life before letting my loved ones see me cry.

Sure enough, as I'd intuited during that phone call with my father, my grandmother died four days later. I had struggled with whether or not to go visit her and in the end, my denial overshadowed my intuition. I didn't go.

From 1993 to 2004, I'd written my grandmother a letter just about every other week. But in the last 4 to 5 months of her life, I sent only 3 letters - the last of which likely arrived after her death.

I have many regrets about my grandmother's death.

As soon as I arrived back in town from the funeral, I tried to bury my guilt over my absence at my grandmother's death by becoming more actively involved in the last few weeks of my aunt's life.

I was spinning in my grief. I cried to and from my visits with my aunt. I am still not sure if I was crying with anticipatory grief for my aunt or with the fresh new shocking grief from my grandmother's unexpected death. In my rational mind, I thought I was successfully holding off my grief over my grandmother in order to be fully-present with my aunt until she died, wanting to put her needs before my own.

During my last visit with my aunt, I choked out an apology for not visiting more often. Was I apologizing to my aunt or to my grandmother or both?

I now wish I had told my aunt about my grandmother's death. (They were not related to each other and had never met). As I wondered if there was an afterlife, I wish I'd asked my aunt what her beliefs about an afterlife were. Perhaps if she believed in one, I might have asked her to tell both of my grandmothers that I love them. Not that I'm sure I believe in an afterlilfe myself, but perhaps, just in case.

What do you think - is there an afterlife?

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