Life is a journey, not a location to arrive at and remain. Sometimes our journey can turn into an unexpected and unwanted change that comes upon us when we’re not looking for it. That’s what happened in the past few weeks on different ends of my family tree.
Suddenly, two youth have left us far too soon. One was a vibrant, 13-year-old girl to a previously undetected brain tumor, and another, an equally vibrant 16-year-old boy who tragically decided to leave this world too soon. I want to rewind time for their parents and siblings, take away the utter grief they feel. Yet, I know that’s not possible.
I’ve had other experiences in my life that have made me want to turn back the clock of time because I didn’t want to go through the grief, sadness, anger, fear, or (insert painful emotion here).
How does one grieve in times like this? I know that not everyone turns to writings of their religious tradition, but I usually do. There’s a quote in the Bahá’í writings, which I find quite touching because it is written to a mother who has lost her beloved child, as if that child is speaking to her from heaven:
‘O thou kind Mother, thank divine Providence that I have been freed from a small and gloomy cage and, like the birds of the meadows, have soared to the divine world—a world which is spacious, illumined, and ever gay and jubilant. Therefore, lament not, O Mother, and be not grieved; I am not of the lost, nor have I been obliterated and destroyed. I have shaken off the mortal form and have raised my banner in this spiritual world. Following this separation is everlasting companionship. Thou shalt find me in the heaven of the Lord, immersed in an ocean of light.’
(Selection from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p. 201)
When I read the powerful images in this quote, especially that this child is “immersed in an ocean of light,” I am reminded that we are spiritual beings living in physical bodies. We are bundles of energy. The energy of these two teenagers has gone from being bundled within their bodies to a state where their energy has much greater potential to touch the world in unseen and unexpected ways.
Yes, of course, that concept can be of little comfort when we are missing them. And yet, the idea that they are now free of the “small and gloomy cage” which tends to make one feel stuck in the mud of life, well, that’s an idea that makes me feel a little bit freer myself when I contemplate it awhile.
As for these two youth who were loved by so many, they will remain in my thoughts and prayers for a very long time, till I cast off my own cage.