My grandfather died today. My father's father. His name was David Franklin White, Jr. This morning he woke up in his body, but by the end of the day, he had reached the end of his life.
I trust that my grandfather is with the ones he loved most, and that in this moment that he is being given the greatest gift of his life: Union with The Divine.
As I was brushing my teeth and flossing my gums, I thought to myself how much my grandfather must have loved my grandmother to create six kids with her, in turn creating a bunch of grandchildren. This is where my body comes in to the picture. As I went through my evening oral hygiene ritual, I gave thanks for my body, and all of the bodies that it took for me to have one. Death reminds us that we are still alive, breathing and with body! This is a very special gift.
Death gives us the gift of memories. There is something symbolic in this regarding my grandfather because his physical mind was gone and he had lost his memories. By the end of his life he barely knew his wife of 60 years. In that moment when I was brushing my teeth I thought about how inspired I am to capture as many memories as I can in this life; through words spoken, poems, storytelling, video, book writing, this blog and photos. Memories help us to relate, and shape our perspective of the Cosmos. Memories are a beautiful aspect of humanity. In honor of my grandfathers memories made and forgotten, I am making it a part of my Path to embrace the Art of Storytelling and Remembrance.
Death brings us the gift of togetherness. My HUGE family will be gathering next week in our home state of SC to have a memorial, funeral and graveside service for his life. It has been a good long while since we all were together. Many of us have gotten married, had children, divorced, gone to rehab, etc. Life has drawn us away, but death will bring us together. I am grateful to see my family, who all are in my life and blood tribe because my grandfather and grandmother fell in love.
Death brings us to our grief. This may not sound like a gift, but if you contemplate it you will see it is actually the greatest gift of them all. Many lives are lost in this world that are not grieved. When we have the opportunity to grieve and feel deeply into this painful part of our humanness, it serves us to fully dive in. In this moment, I am in the first stage of grief, which is denial. It's normal, actually, not to feel right away. That is why we have services to honor the lives of the deceased, it is also a space to give the living a socially acceptable place to grieve. And this is why any opportunity to grieve is a gift, because our society cuts grief quite short. Bereavement leaves are rarely taken, and often we are expected to go about business as usual. In other cultures, for example the indigenous women of Australia, there is a sacred space held daily to grieve. They wake up before dawn to wail and cry while the morning star fades into the early sunlight. They believe if we hold in any grief, it hurts us. Best to get it out, and that needs to be done everyday, because there is always something in this world to grieve. I am looking forward to my first really big cry about this. I can feel it bubbling, and I trust it will be very healing when it arises.
My grandfather's passing has given me many wonderful gifts, and this is only day one. As I continue to remember his life and tell the stories, the gifts will continue to shower me and my family. The real gift is the exchange of love. That is why we are in this life to begin with, we all came here to experience love, in all of it's infinite forms. I love my grandfather very very much, and at this time just pray for my dad, who is his first born son. I pray my father's grieving can heal him in some way, perhaps even healing our lineage multiple generations back.
More to write about my amazing ancestral lineage, but for now, I am grateful for the life of this one man who breathed his last breath today... Revered, Professor, Father, Husband, Grandfather, Uncle, Brother, Son and Friend to many... David Franklin White Junior.