Cynics who think everything is random chaos and coincidence should stop reading right now. This post is not for you.
Those of you who are a little bit cynical might think, well, you know, your mind is focusing on certain things right now, so of course you’d be attuned to them and you would see some kind of pattern.
Those of you who are religious might see the hand of God.
And those of you who are spiritual on any level might just see that there is a force bigger than ourselves (call it what you will) that gives us what we need when we need it.
Carl Jung called meaningful coincidences synchronicity. And unsurprisingly, I recently saw an article on the science of Synchronicity.
In mourning my dad’s death, I feel as if the Universe has set up a safety net that I can fall into and is shining a light down a path that I can take to wrap my head around losing my dad and find a way to move forward.
Before my dad left this world, there were a few cultural icons from my youth who died after short, secret battles with cancer. I’m specifically thinking of David Bowie and Alan Rickman who died within days of each other. As I was thinking about their deaths in the following weeks, my dad faced his “terminal” diagnosis.
My dad, David, died on March 1, which is coincidentally St. David’s Day in Wales.
When my brother called to tell me the news, my pants suddenly tore. One Jewish ritual is to rend garments when mourning – usually the tear is closer to the heart – but since my garments spontaneously rended, they didn’t have a lot of choice and chose a path of least resistance.
The morning after I got the news, I had planned to have oatmeal for breakfast, but I was out, so I had eggs instead. What I didn’t know until later was that the first meal for mourners is traditionally eggs to symbolize life. Coincidentally, Mom, on the other side of the world, also bought eggs.
I had already made an appointment with my acupuncturist. I didn’t cancel it after Dad died because I knew that at that point I needed it more than ever. I mentioned to her that I was waking up between 4am and 5am. In Chinese medicine, 3am to 5am is the time the lung meridian is active. The lung meridian holds grief.
A few days later, I got an email offering a free, 4-part series on yogic breathing exercises.
A few days after Dad died I had a dream that I was robbed. My house had been ransacked and I felt so violated and angry that it had happened while I was asleep. I woke with heart palpitations and in a total panic. When I mentioned the dream to a friend, he said that, in fact, something valuable was suddenly taken from me. Ah. Indeed it was. (Thanks to BR.)
The usual emails came in from various lists I subscribe to and they all had something to offer. Like, a book advertisement for The Mourning After or a book recommendation for Cry, Heart, but Never Break. An article on the new moon led to a site on mourning.
I mentioned in my earlier post that I didn’t sit shiva in the usual way, but I felt that I should do something similar and meaningful to me. Luckily, since this is Israel, my local grocery store has a stock of memorial candles, including a special 7-day memorial candle.
As it happened, the candle burned for almost 9 days. That allowed time for my friend to take me to lunch at a plant nursery and buy new plants for my sadly neglected boxes. I planted the new plants while the candle still burned, so now when I look at the flowers, I feel that there is bridge between mourning my dad and the inevitable continuation of life after. (Thanks to MR.)
A few days after Dad passed away, Nancy Reagan died and the US consulate next door flew the flag at half mast. I knew it was for Nancy Reagan, but it felt like it was for Dad too.
Then there was the marathon (see my earlier post).
Once Upon a Time, one of several shows I watch, has taken all their characters down to the Underworld.
Even with all the coincidences, there was one thing I did on purpose. I listened to a lecture series on Death, Dying and the Afterlife. I didn’t buy it because I’m morbid or needed the intellectual stimulation. I had suggested buying it for my dad because I thought it might help him get through his last months or weeks, though it turned out to be only days. As advertised it did celebrate life, after all, and I wondered how Dad would have responded to some of the lectures. So as I listened and questioned and wondered, I felt that I was listening with Dad.
Little by little, day by day, I’m moving forward. I am comforted by the synchronicity, the meaningful coincidences, that buoy me as I find my way in the world without my dad.