The last time I was alone with Ron was October 31, 2015, when we walked in a new place, the restored train bed at Lorimer Park, where I showed him where the lower path connects to the running trail. We discussed how that path went from there through Pennypack Park and ultimately to the Delaware River. It was then Ron said, “Oh Mom, this is great. Some day I’ll run through the park and we’ll meet on the trail.”
Those words are captured on Ron’s memorial bench which is tucked inside the park, close to that trail he never did get to run.
I have the tenderest memories of that dusky Halloween afternoon and the walk along the path as we softly spoke about love and life, gains and losses and memories of years gone by. It was twilight when we drove home through Rockledge where many of the neighbors brought firepits out to their front lawns to greet the kids going “Trick or Treat”. We marveled at the old timey, small-townish warmth of such a lovely neighborliness. The memory of that walk on Halloween is deeply etched in my heart. It was a Thin Time which I will treasure always.
In Celtic spirituality, which predates Christianity in Ireland, this day of October 31 is celebrated as Samhain, a day that separates the season of light (warm weather) and darkness (cold weather). Also woven within that tangible and visible seasonal recognition is the belief that the seasons and the times they delineate have deeper meanings. In the case of Samhain, it is a day that is honored as a “Thin Time”, a time when the veil that separates the living from the dead is at its thinnest. Such mysticism holds the belief that our loved ones are always nearby, but at this time the veil is the thinnest, they are *that* close, as close as our breath.
Maybe it’s because my heart has been broken wide open by the losses of so many dear ones, but I have no trouble closing my eyes and sensing them all nearby. Even as I write this, I somehow feel Ron’s hand on my back. All I need to do is think about him and be present to myself and I feel the light pressure of his hand on my back. Is it body memory of the many times he escorted me across streets or is it Ron escorting me through another day reminding me he is at my side? Does the difference even matter? Not to me.
This day of October 31, 2018, begins an entire five months of significant Ron dates, each one a “Thin Time” that mark the season when Ron returned to the other side of the veil to continue his journey there with our other loved ones.
And so it matters not whether we believe in any traditional mythology or theology. We have all suffered losses of dear ones. On this day of Samhain, from which the Halloween festival is derived, it might be of comfort to remember them all with deeper consciousness and, in that way, bring them closer to us.
I invite you, if you wish, to think about friends and loved ones who have passed, then write their names in the comments section below. Christian tradition (learned from the Celts) observes the next two days (November 1 and 2) as the celebration of All Saints followed by All Souls, followed by the entire month of November set aside to honor them. November is when the season becomes darker day by day. In November it is all right to cry for seemingly no reason at all, just because it’s November, it’s dark and I miss my mom or I miss my boy or I miss my brother or sister or …. to just think of them and cry until the deepest sorrow passes. And, after a time of such suffering, the sadness does lift. Otherwise, we would all go insane with grief, would we not? Invariably the darkness of grief cracks open for, as Leonard Cohen wrote, “There is a crack in everything. That’s where the light comes in.” If we honor the grief and loss, we can celebrate the light and love their lives brought us.
On this Samhain, these are the loved ones I think of as my losses, not mine alone but losses shared by many others: Mom (Molly), Dad (Al), Nanny (Bridget), Pop (Pete), Nanny (Marion), Joe Eggleton (foster-brother), my sister Mary, her husband Landy, their daughter – my godchild Leslie, my brother Jack, Linda’s daughter Nicki, Jay (Ron and Joe’s step-brother), Anna (Tom’s mom), Joe, Evelyn and Myles (Ron and Joe’s dad and grandparents).
First and last for me will always be Ron, my firstborn. As I have written so often, to have a child die before you do is to expect that they await us, just on the other side of the veil. When I close my eyes for the last time on this side, I envision opening them on the other side to see Ron standing with welcoming arms and eyes smiling into mine, surrounded by all the souls and saints who await a loved one’s return.
“And when the work of grieving is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.”
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Ah! A moment of sublime joy!
…And for Jack
Happy Sampain and Blessed Be!