One thread of loss is my father who has been gone for almost 25 years. I feel his presence every day. His smile and his warmth are alive in me and bring me joy. When I look at the stars, I remember his description of his memory of the winter skies when he was three years old. The stars were close to the earth and very magical to him. In 1909 a young child reached up to the sky, thinking he was tall enough to touch them. His century old memory still echos through me.
I discover another thread of grief. I am still mourning the loss of my sister. I wasn’t finished my conversation with her. We had pulled away from each other before the end. We were both struggling and not really available to each other.
How do you have a conversation retroactively?
Winter winds blow through me to the core, erasing anger and fear, and opening an inner space. In daylight, the warmth of the sun softens the winter light. At night, the brilliance of the star field provokes wonder. In meditation, the deep quiet penetrates every pore. Diminishing anguish gives way to quiet joy like mists rising from the water. The subtle tones of winter soothe the aching heart and they caress me like a smile. Quiet green moss spreads on the rocks and hangs in the trees while a rich, deep gold grows on the dock. Even the rocks look new to me.
I have painted my sister before. This time, I try to hear her in my painting and to feel her love in my heart. I cry for our separateness and again for our deep connection. Laughter gurgles in the memory of her wild, dancing heart. We both have struggled in our relationships and with cancer. It is a family thing.
In part I wanted her to not be herself. I wanted her to be there for me, my way. She had mothered me when I was young and I held onto that. She resented it. In part, I want her to know how sorry I am that I was not at her bedside when she was dying. Our last conversation was on the phone.
Now retroactively, it is hard to find the right words. I stop and breathe while painting, connecting again to my mindfulness practice, and then I contemplate the rock I painted.
Looking, one sees the subtleties in the rock, and the colors shifting in the changing light. The hidden love is all around me.
May you all find these in the new year.
(Excerpted from: “Femininity,” in The Collected Works of Chögyam Trungpa, Volume Six, page 563)