Technically, the term “walkabout” is what the Australian Aborigines youth do as a right of passage. They spend six months immersed in their lineage on a spiritual quest. I use the term walkabout as what I do in my wanderings in the Afterloss. It is a wandering through the landscape of a life now lived in the context of loss and the deepening of love.

Benjamin May 14 Life after lossIt may seem strange to some, but I just realized it was Mother’s Day last Sunday. There are several reasons I’m behind the times here. The first is that it was Bryan’s birthday yesterday and the week before any anniversary I am engaged in a different walkabout. I wander through the layers of relationship I have with the one with whom I am so intertwined. Some cultures call it honoring their ancestors. I call it bowing before the ones who go before me and within me.

Another reason I missed Mother’s Day is because when my mother died ten years ago, I had no one to call. Our connection now is the ongoing assimilation of our mutual presence in moment found in every moment. And, just like with Bryan, Lydia or Matt, I bow especially before the anniversaries of her birth and death.

But probably the most important reason I awoke last night at 2am was I had been drawn into this particular walkabout concerning a specific Mother’s Day – the first Mother’s Day Bryan never made.

Bryan died in February at eight and half months old. That year Mother’s Day landed on Bryan’s birthday, May 13. Life can be ironic. Life can be cruel. But for Lydia to have to go through Mother’s Day on the day of our child’s first birthday only months after his death was ironically cruel.

In my 2am walkabout through my Afterloss, I came across the question, “Where does memory meet moment?” Do I go there or does memory come there? Where do we meet and what do we exchange?

We planted a tree in the front yard for Bryan’s birthday. Matt was four-years-old. His Mother’s Day card emerged from our shared adventure to find the perfect card and Lydia smiled through sorrowed eyes at her child when she opened it. Then we went outside to dig the earth and place a fledgling tree on the barren soil.

Lydia’s phenomenal strength masked her excruciating pain, but she and I had long since transcended masks. We were as barren as the soil beneath us.

On that day, Mother’s Day, Bryan’s birthday, Lydia’s Day of deep sorrow, I could not hold her close enough. There was a part of her no one could hold. Not even she could hold the weight of her loss of Bryan.

There is no such thing as trading places. I could not take her pain, die for her, die for Matt, or bring back Bryan in a trade of life for life. But on that day, I would have done anything if only everything could be different.

We pretended to celebrate for Matt’s sake. Every beat of our broken hearts pulsated in rhythm to Matt’s understanding and relationship with death. To be at ease with Bryan’s death and celebrate his birthday was more for Matt to find ease with Lydia’s inevitable death, and ultimately, is own. We needed to treat death as being just as a natural as watching cartoons, going to the park…or planting a tree.

After we finished putting the dirt over the roots of our new tree we sang Happy Birthday to Bryan. At the end, Matt added, “And many more.” Then he realized what he had said and briefly there was an awkward silence. Lydia and I laughed and gave him a big hug.

How many more? Every holiday or special day was one day closer to the day there would be no more days. Every Christmas or birthday was marked by the question of will this be our last one. We lived every day knowing that day would come. That day came.

I awoke last night at 2am in another walkabout. Where does memory meet moment? Where do I go? Where do we meet? How do we hold each other in Dreamtime? Dreamtime is what the Aborigines describe as the experience beyond time and space and where everything is one.

My body was tired last night. I have spent so many nights waking into a walkabout. I spend many hours in the day in Dreamtime wandering the recess of my Afterloss. Last night, I knew sleep was not going to happen. My body let my heart go. It is no use resisting. When it is time to walk, it is time to walk.

In my Afterloss, there is no here or there. There only is. My walkabouts go everywhere and nowhere. They descend and ascend in the fluidity of stillness. They take me and I take them. Memory meets moment in a timeless state where what I experience is not memory and there is no context to moment.

Life after loss is a different life. I do not seek what was. I surrender into what is.

My walkabout invariable found its way back into sleep. Dreamtime settled back into dreaming.

I awoke this morning reflecting on where memory and moment meet. It meets in every memory and every moment. Life is the culmination and transcendence of both.

Last night I planted a tree in my Afterloss and sang Happy Birthday. Another walkabout took me deeper into my Afterloss, into my Dreamtime.

I went back to sleep with the peaceful refrain, “And many more.” There will always be more…until there is enough.

It’s such a beautiful day here. I think I’ll go for a walkabout this afternoon.

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