The Pagan Blog Project: Deity and the Divine– an opportunity for you to share with everyone those who guide, inspire and inform you.
I’ve spoken at great length about my Patron, Herne the Hunter. I’ve written stories which I’ve shared, I’m looking at going back over my responses to 30 Days of Devotion, and He’s telling me there’s something else I need to write about this month. “An opportunity to share about those who inspire you.”
Death is an inevitable cycle of life. We know this, we have always known this. As Pagans we accept this as another stage in the life cycle of the world. Just as the leaves fall and the bare tree branches shake in the cold harsh winds of winter, new buds and sprouts emerge as the first sign of spring, and the first sign of life returning. Cyclical. As Pagans we honour the change that happens, we celebrate the life while honouring what has past.
Within our own lives, we understand that things will come and go. Friendships will emerge for the time they need to be, and then fade when they have run their course. Emotions, experiences, stages of life – it’s all cyclical.
When my Grandfather passed away in 2008 I didn’t cry until two weeks after this passing. I had been helping my Nan take care of him in the weeks leading up to time – changing the sheets with him there (he couldn’t get out of bed at that stage), laundry, watering the garden, helping run errands. There were 12 of us in his room in palliative care, telling stories, laughing, celebrating his life. I saw the moment his conscious left. He sat up with his arms outstretched and was hugging his family. My family thought he was hugging us, but I knew Oma and Opa were there, welcoming him to his next stage. He had been sick for a long time, and I had prepared myself.
As Pagans we celebrate the life while honouring the passing. At least that’s what we say. That’s what we say when we can no longer cry because there are no more tears left to cry. That’s what we say when the cloud lifts and we formally accept that we will never be able to touch, hug, smile with, celebrate in the company of those we love. That’s what we say when the pain of loss as subsided to the point where we can feel something a little bit closer to normal.
I sit here at home with tears in my eyes as I write this, 1,000km from where I want to be, trying to accept the change that is upon my family. With all my strength I am holding onto the memory of Christmas Day in the hospital room visiting my Nanna, hugging my Poppy while he was strong enough to stand, and to walk. Yesterday he was admitted into Palliative care as the leukaemia has taken too great a hold of his body. I knew that Christmas Day would be the last time I see him. As much as I wish I could be there, I don’t want to lose my final memory of him.
To quote my mother, my Nan and Pop “helped raise [me].” While my father worked night shift, my brother and I went to Nan and Pop’s after school once a week. While my mother was at university and needed time to bang out an assignment, it was Nan and Pop who took me out. Picnics, craft fairs, the local markets, seeing Great Nanna, the odd trip to Shepparton, Easters in Wangaratta, and school holiday Friday’s to Meca catching up with Nanna’s extensive family (one of 12). They had a cappuccino and a biscuit, we had a milkshake and a donut.
When I was in the height of my depression several years ago, there are four people who saved my life: my parents, and Nan and Pop.
As I’m unable to afford the flights down right now, I’m holding onto the memories of the most caring and loving man I’ve had the honour of knowing. Who, even with his own health issues, cared more for the well-being of Nanna than he did himself. I’m holding onto the memories of him teaching me the family history and lineage, of him teaching me things on the computer, helping him repaint their kitchen, doing things in the garage, and him insisting, “no no, you sit down, I’ll go get/do it.”
I tell myself that death is an inevitable part of life that we need to accept, and that we should celebrate the life rather than mourning the passing. I might do that when I’ve cried so much I’ve ran out of tears.
Those who guide and inspire us aren’t always Deity and the Divine. Sometimes they’re the man who asks if you want a cuppa as soon as you’ve walked through their door, who has something new they want you to look at or help them with, and who insists on knowing your car is in good knick before you head home.