Two weeks ago, in the very moments that one dear friend lay dying, the most extraordinary thing occurred.
My phone rang. And I said hello.
On the end, from an airport city very far away, was an old friend, an old love, the one who had held my hand as I passed from innocence to knowing. It had been over 20 years since I last heard his voice which now sounded both familiar and strange. We talked light heartedly as I drove toward home, catching up on the basics of life, until his flight was called, until I pulled up at a neighbors to pick up Max. We would talk again we promised. I felt a circle drawn complete in the sweetest of ways.
I picked up Max. I talked to Jackie. I went to the grocery store. I came home and checked email. And then, only then, I learned that my friend Jenni had died, ending at long last her long painful struggle with cancer. As I wrote down time she had passed away for my journal, I did the math and realized that as I was saying a hello to one I thought I would never talk to again, another I held dear was saying goodbye forever.
And I held that simple fact in my heart. For days, I held it.
This fall I have been learning about letting go. I have been mourning my friend Jen for so long, but I have been working through other changes as well. I have been letting go of old habits, letting go of my favorite defenses, letting go of my most cherished stories. Our foundation has been wobbly as the cornerstones of our life have been, one by one, shifting, transitioning, creating space. Its been hard, scary, at times heartbreaking to see things I loved so much dismantled. As we have managed the bumps and the inevitable fear, I have carried around a mustard seed, convincing myself that I only needed a tiny bit of faith. Stumble forward onward onward–a path would appear that would make it all make sense.
One day, I asked my soulsister Kaiya, “What ever happened to the burning bush? It would be very convenient to see one, you know, with a booming voice and everything. It would be lovely for that voice to let us in on the plan. I am all about the small and subtle, don’t get me wrong, but these days I am feeling so dense and tired and lacking in faith that I would like someone to please let me know what this is all about through something as concrete as a burning bush. It would be a great comfort.”
I don’t think that phone call was a burning bush. But I do think it was a bell. A bell telling me that there is no such thing as goodbye. No such thing as forever.
Nothing is ever really lost. No matter how far away, no matter how long past, no matter how faded-it is there, tranformed perhaps, but accessible in some way, at the end of a ring, a simple as saying hello.