Ten years ago, Jennifer asked me to be her spiritual advisor as she died of an inoperable brain tumor. Of course I said yes, but really felt ill equipped to be somebody’s spiritual advisor. She was my neighbor, people called her Skeeter as a child, because she was such a fast swimmer. I miss that woman, and she taught me how to be brave. Tuesday’s with Morrey by Mitch Albom had recently come out, and I read it, so Jennifer and I could talk about her process. I told her Morrie’s parable about the little wave.
There was once a little wave out at sea. He started rising, loved the flow and motion of his life. There came a time when he saw the far distant shore and asked his other wave friends what it was. They told him it was the end. Little wave was distressed, panicked by the oncoming reality. His friend told him, “Don’t worry, you are part of the ocean.” Jennifer looked into her lap and repeated, “You are part of the ocean.” I could see the parable calmed her down. Not too long after, she passed away.
I was recently in Fort Bragg and Mendocino, walking beaches, getting reflective as I usually do when I’m at the beach. I studied the ocean differently this time, because I understand the truth that sooner, rather than later, I’m going to be part of the ocean. My kids know to put my ashes out there when the time comes. “That’s going to be hard,” my oldest son told me. Well, it hasn’t happened yet.
Like Jennifer, the thought of being part of something calms me down, too. I feel comfort thinking about Morrie, Jennifer, my parents and brother having experienced the ultimate adventure that awaits me. I used to be terrified of not knowing what will happen when I die, but I figured out how to deal.
I decided to rely on love. I love my people, I love living and the fun times, even the funky times that felt like I was dying. I remember my mother saying, “I’m alive, with more stitches than a baseball.” She had so many operations in her time, and her courage was inspiring until the end. I loved her brave reactions to the horrors of her life. My prayers deepened into the love of everything and everybody now and forever. That is enough.
I asked Mom what she thought would happen when she died. “Endless rest.” The look on her face when she said it scared me, since I’d never seen the rapture there before. I’ve been thinking about ‘endless rest’ ever since. I’m not scared about it anymore. Something about her conviction changed my heart. It’s part of being human, but I do think it sucks. I can accept it even though I don’t like it one bit.
So the ocean will welcome me someday, along with legions of others who are like Morrie’s little waves. I will be part of something, endless or not, I want to be part of the ocean. I want the rocking ferocious action to define the next part of my journey.