I heard the delivery man call out from the gate. Is your name Wendy? He handed me a beautiful floral oblong box, not too dissimilar to a narrow, small hand decorated cardboard coffin.
I laughed and cried when I opened it up to reveal a vase full of budding sunflowers and read the card from my dear friends, George and Dave. Lots of love, hugs and flowers to bring you sunshine and fast healing.
I had not long finished watching the graveside funeral ceremony for a dear friend and colleague, Guus who was part of Miindala, Bellingen Bereavement group. Guus was key in organising the cooling plate and baby cuddle cot for post death care in our local area.
Guus’ tumour was discovered in October and mine, in November. When I saw her hand-painted coffin over the grave surrounded by flowers, and listened to her husband, siblings, children and grandchildren offer their tributes I cried.
I cried at the mystery of it all, the grief of saying goodbye.
Some of my tears were the thought that instead of me getting flowers in a box today, it may have been flowers on my box. That one day, those will be my children and grandchildren offering tributes. My belly ached in response to the emotion. At least, like Guus’ family, there will be tears and laughter. I know they will have some funny stories to tell.
However this week, it appears, it is not my time. I will get my pathology results when I see the oncologist on the 27th and I am open to what that may ask of me then. In the meantime, I will enjoy my very slow walks from my son and daughter in laws house and look at all the blossoms, the paperbark trees, watch the neighbours chatting over fences and people riding past on bikes. Life is slow and mindful at present.
There is a parable that comes to mind.
There was an old farmer working in the paddock with his old horse. He had known him for a long time and as an act of compassion, he opened the gate and let his horse wander up into the mountains if that was his wish. Soon after, the neighbours heard that he no longer had his old horse to help on the farm. ‘How unfortunate. You must be sad. How will you work your land?’ they said. The farmer simply replied, ‘Who knows? We shall see.’
A few days later the old horse returned rejuvenated after being up in the mountains and came back with twelve younger and healthy horses which followed the old horse into the yard.
The villagers heard the news and came to congratulate the farmer. ‘What a miracle. You must very lucky.’ Again the farmer said, ‘Who knows? We shall see.’
The farmer’s son started to train the new horses and one day, he was thrown to the ground and broke his leg. ‘Oh dear, what a tragedy’ said the neighbours. ‘Now your son will not be able to help you work the farm. You must be sad.’ Calmly he replied, ‘Who knows? We shall see.’
It wasn’t long before a war broke out and the army arrived demanding that all the young men be conscripted. The farmer’s son was not able to join because of his broken leg. The villagers exclaimed, ‘You must be so relieved.’ The farmer replied, ‘Who knows? We shall see,’ as he headed out to the fields on his own.
The son’s leg didn’t heal properly and he had a limp. The neighbours again exclaimed, ‘Oh dear, that’s bad luck.’ The old farmer said, ‘Who knows? We shall see.’
The farmer and his son went on to work the farm lands and became very wealthy and generous to all the villagers; who praised them saying, ‘Oh how lucky we are, you must be very happy’. The old farmer quietly replied, ‘Who knows? We shall see.’
This parable encourages me to stay in the moment, to look at the whole picture. I celebrate and give thanks for the blessings, and mourn the losses and sadness yet it is part of a whole picture. I cannot control what is unfolding. I have made choices – resting and meditating more, drinking lots of water, changed my diet to be free of dairy, gluten, sugar, lots of grains while healing. I am soaking up an abundance of love and connection. And, I keep opening my heart to what is. Letting my heart lead the way no matter what comes.
My health situation does, I believe, reflect a disturbance, a waking up to an inner tension – and I am showing up for it in the best way I know how. Stopping, resting and being kind. Thank you for walking with me.
‘May love, hugs and flowers bring sunshine into our lives.’
In remembrance of Guus.
Her family sang this song, Wild Mountain Thyme at the close of the ceremony. This version of Wild Mountain Thyme by Sarah Calderwood and the Tasmanian Orchestra is on my funeral playlist.