Blessings of Autumn to you! Or perhaps Spring, if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere. Either way, it is a time of seasonal change, with all the transformation it brings. The Fall Equinox is also known as Mabon, a harvest festival at the point where the days and nights are of equal length, now turning towards the dark part of the year. Here in New England, we’re enjoying crisp sunny days with a sky so blue it captures my imagination, accompanied by the brisk cleansing winds of Fall.
We’ve been taking part in some of our favorite Fall rituals: apple-picking, attending country fairs, harvesting veggies from the garden, making fresh salsa, and watching Dryst’s soccer games. I celebrated my 45th birthday with my family; BlackLion made me a delicious vegan mint-chocolate ice cream cake. On a trip up to Quester’s family camp, ElvenTiger and I canoed into the bay and hiked up Cadillac Mountain. I love this time of year.
This time around, though, it’s bittersweet. I am continually aware that this time last year, my friend Jenn was living out her last few days in hospice care.
In fact, last Mabon a group of us gathered in her room for a ritual of release, to help her let go and leave her broken and cancer-riddled physical body behind. Even in those last days, there was joy mingled with the sorrow. At the end of the ritual, Jenn stood up precariously on her bed, balanced herself in a swaying warrior pose, and declared herself ready. We had to gently explain that it was okay to go, but that she needed to leave her body behind.
A bunch of us, Jenn’s friends and family members, spent lots of time with Jenn during her final days. Brent and I drummed for her, as she had asked me to several months earlier, while she was thinking about the end of her life.
Jenn departed peacefully two days after the Mabon ritual. She hadn’t wanted to die alone, and when she breathed her last, she was surrounded by family and friends. There was a gorgeous sunset that evening. Here’s a picture of it that I took from the hospice parking lot.
Being part of Jenn’s life, and her death, has changed me in many profound ways. I am the person I am today in part because I knew her. I feel that she’s still part of my life, supporting and encouraging me from beyond the veil. Lately that sense has been increasing.
Quester worries that I’m too caught up in my grief and sorrow. Aren’t we all, sometimes? My way of processing grief is to feel it deeply and then release, not all at once but in little bursts. Yet in the big picture, I feel I’m preparing for the next phase of my life’s work. I don’t know what that looks like, just yet. I catch glimpses in dreams and in random moments. It’s creativity, community, women uplifting one another, men tending their gardens, children squealing joyfully, words flowing across the page, love and music and healing and dancing. It’s bright and colorful, encompassing joy and fear, gatherings and solitary moments, challenges and triumphs.
It has echoes of Jenn’s tag line on her voicemail: “…and remember to love one another.”
I am thankful that I can still stay connected, even when I’m sad. We’re all connected. And the wheel turns. Mabon Blessings.