Updated: Apr 5
Post dedicated to Anthony Xavier Copeland Glubka - Found in heaven on April 1st, 2023
The Wisdom of Loved Ones Lost
An excerpt from the book:
"The Lost Art of Wisdom in the Balance of Sacrifice."
In the winter of 2019, I earned a publishing contract with a small local publisher. My book was slated to be released on October first, which was my young cousin's seventeenth birthday. In August of that year, he died tragically in a car accident. The person who hit him was a pastor on vacation with his family. My cousin was browsing a music service for the next song to play as he rolled through a stop sign. I had a vision of him in his car, sun-drenched, as the pastor held his hand and said prayers for him to go to heaven. I have visited the site several times to bring flowers and was even guided there on my grandmother’s birthday by chance. There always seemed to be a ray of sunshine poking through in the photos I took of his final resting place. There was peace and I found solace on the roadside next to the Whitewater River and Lazy D campground in Altura, Minnesota. My uncle composed this poem after his death.
Elliot, I can't sleep.
You are on every page of my mind, and you're at every age but now.
Photos are flashing, stirring my heart with a sharp knife and I can't breathe... The sadness is more than I can bear, and I need more time.
This grieving is so cruel, so hard, so fast, it's so heartless. Elliot, getting to know you was taking a long time, but I didn't mind that pace.
I thought we had forever. But now I need more time. If you can reveal your soul to me now, my son, I'm listening.
Right now, I'll take your one-word replies, a better last image of you, or your final request. You know what mine is. Can we have a little more time? I miss your smiles, your frowns, the guitar riffs, all of it.
...and I'll miss you every day that I can breathe. but now I feel your last breath heaving in my chest. and I am so, so sorry. We have all been cheated. El... Thank you for every page we turned together. I'm forever grateful. I love you and always will. You are my blood, and my heart... and it's where you'll always be.
The suffering of loss can be incredibly debilitating. It can feel like you're being compressed. It's the opposite of the endless unfolding that Buddhists speak about. You're being folded inwards until there is nothing but pain. You're being pressured until you are nothing but that tiny invisible speck that is your soul. Your body can be in so much pain that all you feel is nothing. It seems like nothing, but something is still there. It isn't your mind because your mind is ravaged by doubt, uncertainty, and terror. It isn't your heart because your heart is in absolute agony. The loss of a child or spouse is heart-wrenching and devastating but something always remains. As God seems to twist the last remnants of humanity out of you, you feel like you have tasted death or hell. However, it is also though you are “catching” your loved one. You cushion their fall. You make their ascent or rebirth worthwhile. If they are a baby, you ease the birthing process. If they become an angel, you announce their return to heaven in glory. They are sacred to God, adored and worshiped. They will live charmed lives. They will be in the highest reaches of the divine. Your pain will lift them up. They will achieve even better circumstances because friends, family and neighbors cared for them so much.
The suffering of death is sacred. When we die, we fall into the trick of hell. That the dying process will last forever. However, when the mortal coil is snapped, we find relief. I look at death and I feel we are actually worse off for not having experienced it. Earth seems like a punishment for those who live here but for angels in heaven it is a fascination, a spectacle. What is suffering? How can it exist? What does it feel like to experience the nothingness of life without the creator? It seems odd but some revel in the intrigue. Buddhists worship this nothing. Humans feel peace when they look at a beautiful landscape. It is almost as though they see the everything and nothing of nature. We have everything to experience here but at the same time we often don't feel anything. That is the paradox of life on earth. We run the full gamut of emotion here. We feel the helplessness and agony of hell and the ecstasy and freedom of heaven. A self-proclaimed “redneck” might buy a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He flies down the freeway and can go wherever he chooses. This freedom and liberation he say brings him closer to God. He feels the exhilaration of heaven in these moments. He experiences ultimate joy. Others don't understand this about him, but his people do. There is a huge disconnection that bikers are not holy or pure, yet their experience itself is worthwhile. Just as skydivers or daredevils experience this ultimate exhilaration. There is a price to pay as many are injured or killed. This is the sacrifice of nature and the divine. To experience it there are many who perish.
So how does the suffering of losing a loved one convert to our everyday lives? The pain carves a deep well into us. If we return to earth our loved one will find us by fitting perfectly into the cavity created. When we connect with others the grooves in our being teach lessons, they show us things about how to protect them. We make sure they do not fit. We watch for gaps we have noticed before with the one who is gone. We understand how to catch them when they fall. The capacity to feel that pain, that sacrifice is there. Our threshold for pain allows us to hold them, to save them and to make them complete. The light shines through the crevices of our body, the wood that was whittled out in their death. It illuminates us. It shows us how to heal others, how to keep them from harm. If we were teaching our child to ride a motorcycle, our loved ones who were hurt are the instruction, they are the boundaries. Even in death we save each other, and, in that salvation, we find the wisdom needed to protect others. The cycle continues and on into eternity.
When we suffer for those we have lost, just as my uncle did with Elliot, we search their memories. They are alive everywhere but at this moment it seems. They exist in our past, even in the thoughts we had at the time after they passed away. In this way they continue forever by our sides. Our friend who died in a car crash, on a motorcycle ride, from sickness or tragedy, lives on in our minds even after they are gone. We have memories of hurting for them, missing them, and this pain connects with them on a deeper level than we ever have. It's as though heaven reached down and touched our psyche, reminding us forever that they are there and with us always. They truly never really leave. When we see their face in our minds, in our memories, we feel loved. We feel whole. We feel at peace. Even in our memories of pain they are with us. They are with us always.
- April 2nd, 2023 -