Today, at 48 years old, I am dressing up. Am I going to a Halloween party? Do I have school aged children to promenade with in all my splendor door to door for trick or treating? No and no. I choose to dress up on the eve of the Day of the Dead to celebrate the Day of the Living. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do respect, even enjoy the Day of the Dead. It is an opportunity for families to celebrate the lives of those who have passed and even invite them to sit down for another kind of spirit, a drink, and a calaveras poem recitation to remember and commemorate that person’s unique quirky contribution to the world. And, just as the Aztecs once asked their progeny not to cry on this day, so that the spirits of their loved ones didn’t slip on their way home, so I, too, choose not to cry (just for today!), but to laugh. And if tears come from too many giggles, well, perhaps the departed will just have to slide around a bit and giggle as they try to keep their balance. Today I choose to dance on the threshold. To let my shadow side give me a whirl on the masquerade floor and perhaps give me a tickle under my arms. To relish the gifts of life as we come face to face with the mysteries of death. Today, as a citizen of the living, I choose to live!
“The Body Is A Fragile Thing” is the name of a poem written by Judith Deem Dupree. It’s title and opening line has stuck with me now for two and a half decades. It rings true because the body is fragile, and yet, fiercely strong, strangely tolerant, and puzzlingly persevering. This week I faced both a potentially fatal infection in my daughter’s leg, and a potentially fatal surgery on my sister’s liver. Two scenarios. Two different hospitals.Two bodies. Three (thankfully) resilient souls (including mine).
I am always astonished at how the marriage of body and soul creates vows that are so secretive, yet so powerful. My daughter’s vows must have included, “I promise to trust you, stay with you, and relax into the possibility of a cure as long as it takes.” My sister’s might have been: “I will love you and fight for you until the day I die!” Both great vows for sure.
I wrote a poem a year or so back entitled, “The Marriage of Body and Soul” that included my own set of vows. It started like this:
“Do you, elbowed and ankled form take this soul to be your lawfully wedded wife?
Do you, sobbing, smiling, sentient, seeker take this body to be your patient earthly partner?
Do you promise to embrace her flesh in the full times, the fat times, the thin times, and in the ever-fluctuating ever-fascinating in-between?
So, I guess my question for you today, my question for all of us, is, during this season of “all souls” and “all bodies”, do you and will you always say, “I do”?