Monday, June 23, 2008

No-Coming, No-Going

Saturday, June 21st, the day of the summer solstice, I met Michael's dad (Ben), two brothers (Dan and Franz), and sister-in-law (Mary) for the first time.

We took a picnic to Fall Creek Reservoir, and while Dan and Franz raced to see who could catch the first fish, Michael showed me how to use his paddle board.

Getting on the board was a little hard, but once I was up, I felt pretty stable. I started paddling out into the lake, keeping an eye on the few speed boats that could send a wake my way and possibly knock me off the board.

Once I got a good rhythm down, paddling first on one side, and then on the other, the board skimmed easily across the water, and I felt an expansive sense of freedom and joy. I really didn't want to stop paddling. Eventually, I got tired (especially after paddling into the wind), and I knew Michael would want a turn, but I felt reluctant to step back on land!

The next day, Sunday, June 22nd, was Sage's 1st birthday. Michael and I took my mom and his family to the coast and had a simple ceremony on the beach. Michael and I shared some poetry and blessings, and then we each took a handful of rose petals and scattered them into the ocean.

I want to thank Michaels family and my mom for helping making this day very peaceful and sacred. I've read that the child's birthday can be one of the most painful days of the year for bereaved parents, but that was not my experience. It seems to help to be with people you feel close to, and to do some small symbolic act that honors the child.

We had intended to scatter Sage's ashes that day, but in the end we decided to wait until Waldo Lake is open for the season and we can take the ashes there. The lake is still closed due to snow. Michael and I were married at that lake, and Sage's placenta is buried there. We can't imagine scattering his ashes anywhere else.

Here is one of the poems that Michael shared with us on that day - a year after we held Sage for the first time:

Contemplation on
No-Coming and No-Going

by Thich Naht Hanh

This body is not me
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries
I have never been born,
And I have never died.

Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
Manifestations from my wondrous mind.
Since before time, I have been free

Birth and death are only doors through which we pass
Sacred thresholds on our journey
Birth and death are a game of hide and seek

So laugh with me,
Hold my hand,
Let us say goodbye
Say goodbye to meet again soon.
We meet today
We will meet again tomorrow
We meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.

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