The Gift of a Ring

I am wearing a ring that I once gave to my friend who is dying. She returned it to me this week, along with several sets of earrings we bought together over the years as we traveled, both outwardly and inwardly. There’s the Eiffel Tower earrings from our trip to Paris, the Celtic earrings we bought in the lower bowels of the abbey in Iona. Moonstones earrings that we often traveled with in tropical places and laid out in the light of the full moon to “recharge”. And the ring with the pearl that I am wearing now that symbolized for me the luminescent quality of her being when I gave it to her. Only now, the pearl is missing from the ring. And she doesn’t have the energy or will to find it. But I want it on my hand. I am wearing it without a setting, without that pearl and it feels strangely right.

When I sense into what that rightness is, it’s not symbolic really of the loss I feel as she is leaving this earth– which would seem to make sense. There is an obvious hole in the setting, something surely missing. But that sentiment is not here. My months of shock, dread, rejection, descent, nausea, weeping, and anxiety have all quieted down. What is here is a surprising sense of wonder. What will I replace in the setting? Another pearl? A stone that is meaningful to each of us? Even a diamond to represent the eternal nature of our soul connection? What will I find? What will find me? I want something that isn’t so much keeping a memory but a continuing of our travel together, but now in a new way. Something of wonder, of mystery, of potential.

Another gift from her was a small sterling silver mobius–the never-ending twisted loop. On it are inscribed the words, “My possibilities are endless.” I let my fingers rub over its edges, feeling not only possibility of her journey onward into realms beyond this one, but the endlessness of love that will travel with her. That’s a wonder too.

“The Thrilling Emergency of the Present”

In answer to a question put to him by a follower on his website, Nick Cave answered her question about the lapping circles of loss when a loved one dies with these beautiful words:

” I think this feeling you describe, of alertness to the inner-spirit of things — this humming — comes from a hard-earned understanding of the impermanence of things and, indeed, our own impermanence. This lesson ultimately animates and illuminates our lives. We become witnesses to the thrilling emergency of the present — a series of exquisite and burning moments, each extinguished as the next arises. These magical moments are the bright jewels of loss to which we cling.” (the

I have just read the tender words of my dear friend, Bill who wrote his update on his wife’s journey with cancer. His clarity and courage brought my tears and gratitude for his integrity on a journey he never wanted to take. Now there are no more treatment options and the plan to bring her home today and begin hospice for her final days is clear. And his acceptance begins.

After reading his entry on the Caring Bridge website, I was called to the door by a friend, and as I stepped out into the morning sunlight, a sparrow hit the kitchen window beside me and fell stunned to the deck a few feet from my door. I groaned with the sadness of watching it suffer, and wavered in my wanting to bend down and help it or let it be. Another sparrow landed at the foot of the stairs to the deck, waiting. My neighbor and I stood and held our breath for a few moments, staying still. And then suddenly it revived itself, shook its head and flew into the branches of the birch tree nearby. I noticed the leaves of the tree were each illuminated by the morning sun, so that they were shining, illuminated, iridescent. As Nick Cave said so brilliantly, I was a witness “to the thrilling emergency of the present.”

This now is my fervent intention, my desire to infiltrate my way of being– as each day becomes a vigil for my friend, my Anam Cara, my Kasama, my soul sister of 36 years. I will honor her by being witness to the bright jewels of loss that will wake me to the wonder of this life, this impermanent life. I will cherish what comes, the way of the shining in the dark that pervades, the lilt of love that embroiders my encounters, that holds my gentle exquisite tears. Tears themselves small jewels as they gather and fall.

Her dying shakes me awake, though I lie stunned…

in that thrilling emergency…

I remember


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