There’s just something about communing over enchiladas served on a bed of death related conversation that makes me feel glad I’m alive! The second Death Café Santa Clarita fed my soul and my belly. Wednesday night, ten strangers, were lightly tossed by the question, “What is your most significant death experience?”
Ten different answers, seemingly miles apart, but in the course of sharing, we discovered one unifying factor: our desire to hear and be heard.
We walked in as individuals, salads and desserts in hand, not giving any clues as to the depth of our loss experiences. As we ate we talked about belief systems, Catholicism, Spiritualism, Buddhism, and Born Again Christianity. We played with some intimate thoughts and even some musings about the glass being half full. We asked each other questions, tears were shed without apology and the next thing we knew we were devouring cake like children!
Isn’t that what life really is? Child’s play.
Believe me, it certainly doesn’t feel like playing most of the time, but the older I get the more my life feels reminiscent of elementary school. I consistently get the feeling that in between the core classes, where the hard work is done, there is time for a go around the monkey bars.
In “earth school” the core classes seem the worst. Four of us in attendance at this Death Café were living with the death of one of our children, all sons, aged 4, 15 and 28; all cancer related. Our rich tender conversation about years unlived lead to tearful reflections from others over the loss of babies never born or never conceived; the end of dreams just as painful as the end of life.
It’s like we feel as though we are stuck in classes we didn’t sign up for, (can you tell my them here is influenced by Jacob’s return to school?)
Whether age or illness, the unfriendly culprit of our limitations, the prevention of ideas we want born, always leads to questioning the state of our reality. Interesting how the pain we feel over lost expectations runs through much of our death related discussions.
We expect that we will be able to have children at will. We expect that after they are born they will out live us. And we believe that we will not be faced with our own death until we complete the long list of accomplishments we have made for ourselves: love, marriage, career, financial security, nirvana, the baby carriage.
The great thing about talking about what the losses in our lives have taught us is that we are capable of learning from each other no matter where we are in school. Whether we’re in geometry or on the teeter-totter, we are all fully alive and in it together.
Like children sharing a playground, we are all attracted to certain apparatus at different times in our lives and sometimes we fall off. Taking a recess to share our experiences, in sweet, safe, secure conversations, like those at Death Cafés, offers us a connection to our fellow playmates. Hopefully teaching us to extend a little grace the next time one of us gets hurt.