Conscious Aging: Dealing with Death

Grief takes funny forms. I’m not focused on Minga’s death every day, not like her daughter Ana, with whom she was living and for whom Minga’s absence is tangible from the moment Ana starts her day. I’m thinking of the new sofa bed that we bought at the mall. I’m not sure it had even been delivered yet when Minga died. She may never have had a chance to sleep on it. Ana and Raul and Miley now have the sofa bed, and it’s really nice. I’m sure it’s in their living room — a new furniture purchase is rare. I’m sure they can’t sit on it, or rest on it or watch TV on it, without thinking of why and when and for whom it was bought.

I’m aware, as I plan for my annual trip to Panama, now less than a month away, how odd it’s going to be to arrive at Minga’s house and have her not there. She was aways at home on the day she knew I was arriving, waiting for me to pull up in the rental car. I can see her break into a smile, begin to walk toward the car. She would clasp me in a warm hug, both of us rocking back and forth. She very much lived in the moment, not thinking how long it had been since my last visit, or how many days I’d be there on this one. I was there now, and that’s what mattered. Her heart was full. We  had time.

I don’t think about Minga’s death every day, but I have a general feeling of being unsettled. I’ve had a string of annoying things to deal with — roof leak, raccoons, trouble with my new Pixel 3, car engine light on — none serious or unfixable. The leak is repaired. Gonzalo is taking the next step in fighting the raccoons: putting chicken wire down along the perimeter of the new turf. Apparently raccoons don’t like to walk on wire. A replacement phone is on the way. My car is fixed. But I’ve had less reserve in dealing with each of these things, found them more disconcerting and spent more emotional energy on them than was warranted.

Some part of me is working really hard beneath the surface, and there’s not much reserve for a sense of humor about raccoons.

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