Today marks one week since our mom’s Celebration of Life. It was beautiful, authentic and shared by almost seventy people who loved her dearly. As with dad, though perhaps for different reasons, this event was scheduled months after she died. And though everyone makes often personal decisions on whether or not or how to hold a memorial or end of life celebration, for me the “few months later” felt perfect. I couldn’t ask for a more special day, more loving friends and family, music, remarks…all of it.
It is only today that I, though, feel the weight of responsibility lift that I too was holding, deep in this renewed season of COVID. Because of what I know and do, it was impossible for me to take on planning this event without feeling that I might be putting someone at risk, the responsibility to do everything possible to minimize those risks, and advise accordingly. And while one or two may have claimed to me that each person has a responsibility to themselves, that I was not or should not take that on, in public health we know this is not fully true. Yes, I felt deeply the responsibility for all who I invited to share in this remembrance: I did not want to be the ember of negative health outcomes.
And while today I feel that I can finally breathe a sigh of relief that I did everything I could to minimize risk to those we care so much about, I can also bask in the love and remarks shared on the day of the Celebration, memories of the past, and acceptance of this newest addition to my heart pocket.
I also understand how much negativity is fueled because of differences of awareness, opinion and beliefs about this virus, between friends and family. We can only do so much to help others keep themselves safe, and we must agree to disagree, especially when they are outside our sphere, our influence, our exposure. As much as we worry, pray and hope for health and well-being of others, yes, there is a point when we have to let go. Is it a bit like when our own children fly away: they must learn to choose and take their own actions, sometimes placing them in precarious situations? It is what we do as parents. Alas, it might also be what we must do with others in our lives. Protect ourselves, those vulnerable. First, do no harm. We have so much ahead of us that is challenging and frightening, climate change, smoke and fires, COVID-19. We must find moments of relief, celebrate the actions that are taking us to a better place, and be with those we love in joy and communion when we can.
On this Sunday, for those seeking renewed sense of honoring each other and sharing gratitude, this song may speak to you as it does to me. Close your eyes and listen. Thank you Rumi and Dan and Rahmana.