- 1.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Home
- 2.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Gravity of Relationship
- 3.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Light
- 4.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Beyond Voting: Albert and Kristina
- 5.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Energy of Summer
- 6.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Zen Koan
- 7.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Looking at Death
- 8.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Last Time
- 9.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Stick-to-it-ive-ness
- 10.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Forces of Nature
- 11.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Courage
- 12.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – September 3rd
- 13.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – The Illusion of Time
- 14.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – Finding Voice
- 15.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – A Talk Amongst Rocks
- 16.Conversations with Dead People: A Series – How to be in Conversation with the Universe
Looking at Death
Pen to Paper, 20 Minute Writing with Revision
He doesn’t hear me. He’s mowing the lawn with the push mower, concentrating on a clean line around the border of the pink poppy garden.
“Carl Jung!” I scream.
He stops in mid-step, the blades of the lawn mower spitting heads of grass. He walks over to me, sits down on the cement step, pulls out his hankie, and wipes the sweat off his old, dead head.
“Where did you get the word synchronicity?” I ask.
“I made it up,” he says, still wiping his brow.
“That was brave,” I say, as I put my arm around his back, moving us closer. “Meaningful coincidences is hard for people to grasp, like the story of my brother Jay, knowing his death.”
“Yes, the powers that be seem to believe that they can hold onto their power more easily if most of society is not trusting that their inner lives have deep meaning, and that they as individuals are intimately connected with the workings of the universe! By the way, how are the baby robins doing?” he asks.
“Let’s look,” I say as I stand up, turn toward the front door, stand on tiptoes to peer into the nest, and see I don’t need to because the now three large baby robins are all standing erect, looking like they are just about to fly for the first time.
“Look, Carl!” I shriek.
He turns, still perspiring on his brow, covering his eyes from the sun as he looks up toward the robin’s nest on top of the light fixture.
“Stay away from them, Kristina. You don’t want to startle them out of the nest too soon!” he warns, knowing my desire to keep all creatures living.
“I just want a picture,” I say, as I inch closer to the birds, trying not to impose on the space the young robins need. As I raise my iPhone, all three robins take flight.
One hits the metal awning above my head with a thump that reverberates throughout my body; the second flies across the road just before a city bus zooms by; the third glides over the yew shrub and disappears into the neighbor’s yard.
I sit down next to Carl. He is visibly annoyed.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I will listen to you from now on.”
“I forgive you. What brings synchronicity to your mind this beautiful day?” he asks. It takes me a moment to shift from the birds taking flight back to my inquiry. I am worried, feeling guilt. “Sometimes I feel its presence, Carl, but these days I can’t find it anywhere. Life feels meaningless, not at all full of purpose.”
He jumps up, “Let me finish the lawn, and we can continue this conversation over breakfast. You promised me some of those fresh eggs, and fresh squeezed orange juice, yes?”
“Yes, I did. Let’s meet in the house in twenty minutes?”
“Deal,” he says, pulling himself up with the black wrought iron railing that lines the front porch.
I walk along the yew shrub. As I round the corner of the house, I see my cat, Beauty, chewing on a dead baby robin. When Beauty sees me, she tightens her jaw around her prey and runs, the bird’s head hanging on one side, its claws dangling on the other side. My impulse is to run after my cat, make her give me the baby bird, and nurse it back to life. Then, I notice what I want is for Carl not to find out. I don’t want this witnessing. My guilt bubbles to shame. I determine not to tell Carl. I turn to see he pushing the mower out front, his back facing me.
In the house, I open the refrigerator, grab the bacon, set it on the cupboard, grab a skillet from the pot and pan hanger, set it on the stove, turn the electric stove top to medium, and turn back to the bacon. I open the package and notice, as I peel each strip of bacon one from the other, preparing it to drop into the pan, I am hating on myself. It is a combination of a deeply judgemental voice echoing nasty words in my head, and a painful energy circling in my gut. I feel I am being eaten.
I walk to the hot pan, carefully lay a strip of bacon. The bacon sizzles, and I lay the next strip, side by side, until four strips of bacon are sizzling on low heat. I wash my hands, and head to the chicken coop in the back of the garage. Carl is putting away the mower.
“Hey, Carl. You done?”
“Yeah,” he says.
“Want to help me collect eggs?”
“Absolutely,” he says, following me into the coop.
I turn left to grab a brown egg out of the dresser drawer I found on the curb a few months back repurposed now as a brooder box. Carl stops, and as I turn toward him, I see he is gazing upon a spider web in the window of the coop. The web covers the bottom right corner, holds four flies, and radiates out from its center in octagons of concentric repetition.
I skootch past Carl. The coop is large enough for us both to be in here, but I am careful to avoid the piles of chicken shit on the floor.
“Carl?” I know if I don’t tell him now, I never will.
“Yes, Kristina?” he says, as I grab a second brown egg.
“I killed at least one of the baby robins. The cat had it.”
He turns from the spider web, opening his arms, “Come here, sweetheart,” he says, as I fall into his arms, and sob, dropping both eggs.
Conversations with Dead People is a series of stories which show up in my meditative practice, Contemplative Writing. With this practice I sit with pen and paper, twenty minutes, and write to a prompt from a meditative space. I share these stories with minimal edits to share the depth, the directness, the deep body sense, I experience with my teachers.
Albert Einstein pops into my writing often, we hang out, giving us both a direct chance to explore the illusion of time. Albert feeds me tremendous encouragement to trust the irresistible urge I have to grieve, and heal, through death.
We also meet Thomas Merton, Georgia O’Keeffe, Carl Jung, and more through this weekly blog, Conversations with Dead People: A Series. Please join us each week.