Yesterday Maurice (Sendak) passed over into the non-physical aspect of Life where he no longer needs an address or telephone number. And here I sit on my side of the Divide with its door yet to open, in my mind I hear unbidden fragments of conversations that we had. I know the day will come when I will no longer be able to hear the timbre or the pitch of his voice because I can no longer hear in my mind my own father’s voice who died 32 years ago. I have known Maurice for 27 years. We quickly became good friends and that friendship has lasted since I left my monastery 11 years ago. To re-hear him today I re-read letters and cards from him allowing him to be more present for me again. In my life only Maurice has ever said certain things in certain ways and those phrases are uniquely his. Still at the oddest moments a wave of grief washes over and sucks me under.
Relationships are not confined to physical proximity. When a child moves out of the house to go off to college do they stop being “family”, ʻOhana, just because they are not physically in the house? Of course not because the heart knows no walls between it and the ones it loves. Having come into being out of non-being we can never again not-be. Therefore those who have passed on to the “other side” are still present in their relationship with us although present in a different way, no longer being confined to one room at a time by a body. Sometimes the grief that we experience at the passing of a loved one is actually the birth-pains of a new way of being in a relationship with them. So it is not so much loss as a transfiguration of the way in which each relates to the other.
And yet why do we wait to tell someone that we love them? Maurice’s death yesterday has caused me to send out emails today telling people that I love them. Why do we put off calling people to remind them that we love them? No longer needing a phone I now walk around the house talking to Maurice out-loud. A bystander would presume I am mad but the fact is that the pull of our relationship enables us to now be in the same room at any time. Knowing that in some small way is a comfort to me.