Life is amazing.
I was also chosen from the time I was very little for work with Threshold care. As a preschooler I would carefully bury birds, bugs and worms that I found dead in the yard. Singing over them I would imagine clearly their spirits rising up out of the shell of their body. I saw a beautiful winged creature emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon. Clearly. Easily. Death was not as sad to me as it was a thing of Wonder.
As a teen I read Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's book (On Death and Dying) a dozen times before I was out of high school. I loved reading the case studies. It felt like cheating to me. Like getting a map of Life from someone who had walked it. Like starting a maze from the end. I cherished these stories and tried to bookmark things in my own life that would be with me on my deathbed. I noted it was usually the most simple things: a meal cooked with love, the scent of a flower, the smell of rain in the desert. I didn't know it but I was learning deep gratitude as a practice.
I went to college vaguely understanding that Elizabeth was a psychologist. I studied Kant and Jung looking for the crumb trail, but still could not discern the chirping sermon of the ordinary death all around me. It wasn't until my early 20's when my son died in my arms that I was deeply marked. Changed. Broken Open. Still, I tried not to hear, or could not. It would take me about 8 more years, the heart-shattering death of another son, and many hours of solitude walking through my own grief and anger to understand the seeds that were germinating in me.
The crumb trail always led me to the garden, to the dandelions and the chickweed. I knew the song of the stars was coming through them, I knew if angels walk upon the earth they do so in gowns of Green. I ended up in desperation at a herbal medicine apprenticeship searching for some translation. My teacher, Susun Weed, was a student of Kubler-Ross's. What a simple sentence "When my teacher Elizabeth Kubler-Ross taught us about anger..". The world sucked into a pinhole singularity. It all crashed together in an instant. A direct lineage. Life is amazing. Who needs fiction? Reality is so much stranger.
I knew then that I would be involved in Death Care. This was somehow the Rosetta Stone to the song of the Soil. "AH! The Song of the Stars is One with the Song of the Soil! It is so painfully obvious the One cannot be separated from the Other. Life must have the foundation of Death. This most common death that is all around us, that we have built our bodies from and grown our food and medicine from". So simple and so obvious once the seed has broken open. I have learned about Green Burial and Home Funerals. I have volunteered at Hospice and been called upon as a chaplain for spiritual support of the spiritually homeless among us. I have studied all the Thanatology I can put my hands on and been certified as an End-of-Life Specialist and Death Doula. I have made urns and altar pieces. All to relearn what I was born with; this simple knowledge that the Dead need us to lovingly sing over them and tenderly vision their spirits rising up out of the shells of their bodies. That to listen to the dying is like getting a map of Life from one who is at the summit. That while death is so sad and undeniably painful, it is also full of Wonder.
What a beautiful thing.