always go to the funeral + sing your song

i’d love to spend more time writing and am going offline this week on the green river canyon with true north treks to figure out exactly how to do that, or at least start to do that.

with several BAYS women, we went to erin’s funeral in palm springs the weekend before last. it was raw, beautiful and heart-wrenching. she brought so much love and light into the world. when I met another of erin’s friends, I told her that erin’s death made my heart break open into a million pieces. to which she replied: “isn’t that how you felt when you met her?”

sitting and crying with erin’s dad, meeting her brother and hearing his laugh that is similar to erin’s, sharing memories with all these people who, knit together, made up her beautiful support network…

my conclusion from the weekend is to always go to the funeral, as this old NPR story shares so eloquently.  it’s never something you regret.because erin was a writer and surrounded herself with other literatis, her funeral and the words spoken were, at times, stunning. i’ll leave you with 3 pieces read by the rabbi:

The precision of pain and the blurriness of joy. I’m thinking

how precise people are when they describe their pain in a doctor’s office.

Even those who haven’t learned to read and write are precise:

“This one’s a throbbing pain, that one’s a wrenching pain,

this one gnaws, that one burns, this is a sharp pain

and that––a dull one. Right here. Precisely here,

yes, yes.” Joy blurs everything. I’ve heard people say

after nights of love and feasting, “It was great,

I was in seventh heaven.” Even the spaceman who floated

in outer space, tethered to a spaceship, could say only, “Great,

wonderful, I have no words.”

The blurriness of joy and the precision of pain —

I want to describe, with a sharp pain’s precision, happiness

and blurry joy. I learned to speak among the pains.

Hold on and let go.

On the surface of things

contradictory counsel.

But one does not negate the other.

The two are complementary, dialectical

two sides of one coin.

Hold on — death is not the final word

The grave no oblivion.

Hold on in Kaddish, Yahrzeit, Yizkor.

No gesture, no kindness, no smile evaporates —

Every kindness, every embrace

has its afterlife

in our minds, our hearts, our hands.

Hold on and let go

Sever the fringes of the tallit of the deceased

the knot that binds us to the past.

Hold on

Not enslaving memory that sells the future

to the past

nor recollection that makes us passive,

listless, resigned.

But memory that releases us for a new life.

Return the dust to the earth

not to bury hope

but to resurrect the will to live.

Artists, aerialists

on a swinging trapeze

letting go one ring to catch another

to climb to higher heights.

Hold on and let go.

a courageous duality

that endows our life

with meaning.

Neither denying the past

nor foreclosing the future.

The flow of life

the divine process

gives and takes

retains and creates.

Old and new

yesterday and tomorrow

both in one embrace.

The Lord giveth

and the Lord taketh

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

from Erin herself: “What is your soul calling you to do? What is the mission, the meaning, only you can fulfill? Where have you hidden away your most profound desires and aspirations? Can you unearth them? Most importantly, how are you actively thwarting their accomplishment? Yes, that is the challenge—figuring out all the ways we work against ourselves.”

xo and more soon. in the meantime, as erin’s brother told me, sing your song.


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