Just another April in Paris.
Note: I wrote this on April 17th. Not today, which is May 3rd. This is the last (I promise!!!) of the pieces I mentioned having penned last month, whilst I traversed the "anniversary" of the week of Cole's accident, moving on, and life celebration event... and made my way to to the other side. It hit me like a steam-roller...even though I knew it was all coming. And although I had thought I could make it through without the assistance of large amounts of Kleenex, I was completely wrong and knocked down for the count. But feeling our feelings is the only thing that can get us to the other side of anything heart-wrenching. And so...my motto is to keep on crying as long as necessary until you can smile again.
ps - Kleenex is not sponsoring this blog post. Although, why the hell aren't they ??? :
When I was at my first design job in my twenties, a printer gave us a calendar. One of the months featured an image of a collection of snow globes. My future husband, Drew, collected weird snow globes on his freelance film job travels. I tore the page off of that calendar and saved it. And so, decades later, I still have this tidbit... from that calendar. How much do you want to bet it was for the month of APRIL? (And btw, all those black dots are pinholes from all of the many times I've had that bit of paper tacked onto one of my bulletin boards over the many years. I kind of love that!)
April was quite the month.
Not only did it mark the three year "anniversary" of my son Cole's "moving on"...but
Notre Dame burst into flames! And also, to complete the trifecta of emotional terror ~ I was reminded that April is also National Organ Donation Month. (NOTE: FILL OUT THAT PAPERWORK OR THAT CARD FOR YOUR WALLET RIGHT NOW SO NO PART OF YOU EVER GOES TO WASTE. More on this in a full-blown organ donation themed blog post coming your way one day soon. Gird your loins!)
These things are all so inter-related that it is ridiculous. And spooky. And magical.
And to some, perhaps, slightly unbelievable.
But not to moi.
Let's begin with the "April being the official organ donation month" thing. Cole's organs were donated ~ to a number of very fortunate human beings ~ from a toddler-aged girl to a man in his fifties. This happened to have occurred in April. Not only that, but April 12th is, apparently, THE specific day selected to make others aware of the importance of organ donation. And Cole's organs were donated on April 11th.
So there's that.
Now on to the next bit of synchronicity.
Although not many people know this, Cole traveled to Notre Dame. Yes, indeed. He did.
He traveled there in a tiny silver metal vintage 35mm film canister. He made the journey with his sister and myself. The last week of last April. And it was a one-way ticket for him. I left a sprinkling of him there. In a dark little crevice in the bottom of the pulpit.
When I placed him there, in what was ultimately not a particularly graceful undercover maneuver on my part, I recall talking with his sister about the fact that Cole would now be in Paris forever. Because they clearly didn't have a vacuum cleaner with an attachment tiny enough to get into the little spot in the pulpit.
A canister full of Cole. I imagined his laughter bottle up in there, like the
Universe before the Big Bang explosion. Notre Dame seemed the perfect
place to let it out. That place needed a little lightening up! ;)
And so, of course Notre Dame would burst into flames on the day that marked the day of the
three-year anniversary of Cole's funeral/ aka life celebration/ aka final stage performance. April 15th. It may have technically been the 16th when Notre Dame was burning in Paris...but here in Maine, it was still the 15th.
No surprise there. At least not for this mom. Cole has always been dramatic, and has remained so
since his earthly departure in the "little" signs he sends my way.
Songs blasting out via strip-mall outdoor stereo systems, beloved religious architectural treasures catching fire. Little things like that.
When we had Cole's "life celebration performance event" (I have still never found the right words to describe it), our arrival at the waterfront venue had been preceded by the wailing of fire trucks and the appearance of firemen. And a full-blown evacuation of the building. Afterward I found out it was because the dishwasher in the kitchen had set off the fire alarms.
The high school play that Cole had starred in and won accolades for was called The Dishwasher.
And he played the part of...the dishwasher.
So of course it would follow suit that the building where his "funeral" was about to take place had to be evacuated before anything got off the ground because the dishwasher set off the fire alarms.
And OF COURSE the month of April is all about reminding people to donate their loved ones organs.
And OF COURSE a nine billion year old cathedral in Paris, containing two tablespoons of Cole's ashes would burst into flames on the date coinciding with his "funeral" here in Maine.
A photo I took in Paris last April from a bridge looking up the Seine toward...Notre Dame. It was the evening of our arrival and we had just settled in to our charming little "pied-a'-terre." Note: it wasn't on fire back then, it just looks like it was. :)
I used to believe in the God of organized religion. Because that's how I grew up. Then my husband died and I pretty much moved on from that whole organized religion version of a white guy up in the sky looking down upon us, and I began my own exploration into spirituality and "God." Then my son died, and absolutely everything was blown out the window. And I was catapulted into a new world
of inner exploration. The depths of which are a blessing.
I don't really "believe" anything anymore.
I don't need to believe, because I now KNOW things.
Believing is for when you have no direct experience with "God" or "A higher truth" ...it's when you're
following a pre-determined path, inwardly hoping all of that stuff you've been conditioned to believe is true and real, but you don't have your own evidence to back anything up. Life has yet to provide you with the dynamite required to blow up old constructs.
Knowing is for when you have hit rock bottom, when you have suffered, truly. When your heart has been so deeply and painfully and forever cracked open that it's all just out there.Spilling over onto the floor. And that's when you don't need to believe. Because believing feels fake. And shallow. And like something for those who haven't lived. It's putting hope in something, rather than opening yourself up to something much more comforting...the fruits of your own existential experiences. Your own KNOWING.
When you BELIEVE, it's still kind of a crap shoot. You're following a bunch of dogma. It's all just hear-say.
When you KNOW, it's because you've seen things. Felt things. Heard things. Connected the dots.
And there's been no middleman. And you know you have never needed a middleman. It's all right there between you and some larger sacred power.
And you simply know.
You know we are spiritual beings here in these sometimes uncooperative human bodies. And you know when we leave here, we are never actually gone.
We've simply "moved on."
The greatest gift of deep grief is the gift of that knowing. I wish we could all, every single one of us,
experience that knowing and "lightening up" and inner wisdom without needing to go through the heart-wrenching pain and losses and that seem necessary for its unveiling.
The planet would be a more loving and chilled-out place. "Relax, everyone. All is in order.
You know what's really going on here."
Sending you love, hugs and a gazillion Cole-inspired-smiles. Always.