Vivir la Vida

This morning I read this quote by Helen Keller: “Death is no more than a passing from one room to another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in the other room I shall be able to see.” I read it the wrong way at first, having woken up with a muddy mind. I thought Helen was imagining she would already see like a spirit does, without a body, because of her blindness and the strength of her other senses. I pictured a dark and stumbly afterlife, with Susanna being taught to feel her way around. It was a sleepy and anxious thought, unnerving to me. When I get there I will know what is on the other side, but by most accounts things get broader rather than more limited.

It makes more sense to imagine Helen looking forward to physical sight in the afterlife. I hope she arrived and saw all of the people she loved, here and there, and all of the things she imagined looking at with functional eyes. When my son and I were at the movies today we used a musical candy machine which spurted colorful visuals and, in turn, bright candies which you could watch travel a conveyor belt and jump into a plastic cup for you. I hope Helen Keller crossed over and got to see many spectacles like that.

I have been stumbling around as if my senses are impaired lately. I feel a crushing weight on my heart which is searching for an exit. “Seeing” is on my mind. I am hoping to see my way through. One night last summer I was walking with my boy and sadness descended upon me. I pictured my heart chakra as an intricate Mexican tin candelabra. There were pains being gently burned away, as I had watched happen during an energy healing session a few days earlier. The thought I had was this: “It is okay to be sad. We can all do the work we came here to do, no need to judge our sadness. Loss hurts, and we all feel that.” Still true. Still hard not to judge. Still hard to let go of all the pieces of myself which gently hiss and evaporate as I try to allow healing and living.

There is a song I keep playing for my students lately, in video form, while we clean up after art class. It is Marc Anthony’s “Vivir la Vida”. I have been needing to hear it at home lately as well. I translated the lyrics and was not surprised by the simple and beautiful optimism in their meaning and how it matches the song. (Live life, laugh and dance. Rain comes sometimes and cleans wounds. Why not stop suffering, because life is like that.) This is a way I want to feel again but can only hope for, almost as distantly as I hope to see my daughter again, with the full vision of my eyes, laughing and dancing. I do what I need to do and invest part of myself in both of these hopes every day.

Since this is Halloween, I have been watching a lot of R.L. Stine horror adaptations with my son. They feature many red-headed children (I don’t know why the red hair) finding themselves hunted by unlikely creatures. Sometimes I interject some “I’m not scared of that” type of comments. They jump out of my mouth as a maternal protection against nightmares, maybe. My evolved child has starting saying, “You shouldn’t judge. If you were there and you saw that you would be scared, right? So you shouldn’t judge”. He is so correct. Scared, sad, angry, boisterous, whatever. No need to judge. Just vivir la vida, mi gente.

By trishfreer

Mother, writer, artist and teacher grappling with grief and loss.

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