I was at a funeral on the weekend. A very charming, intelligent friend of my lovely man took off the tight shoe sometime last week after a full 82 years.
Here’s what whacked me: His body was there. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything but an urn at a funeral. Jeez, it’s unnerving, a bit like being in a wax museum except that Johnny Depp and Marilyn Munroe are absent and we’re all pretending this body is the real thing. We’re pretending this is Ferg.
“He looks good,” someone says.
Who looks good? The thing, the entity in the casket? At the risk of going all Abbot and Costello, there was no who in that casket, there was a what.
It makes me want to sit in a circle with everyone I know and ask, “who are you, to the best of your knowledge, without the bits you’ll leave behind?”
If I have nothing to do with this body, this face, these eyes, and this voice, and nothing to do with the bodies around me ( my kids’ bodies, my friends’ bodies, or suits, or whatever they actually are), who am I?
I’m clear (I think) about not being my profession, my passions, my stuff, my stories, my massive inadequacies and inadequate strengths, my tastes, my crummy habits, my humour and my dead seriousness, my absurd affection for my dog, and my not-so-absurd affection for my kids and lovely man.
I can only tell you what I suspect. I suspect that I come from capital-L-Love, that i’m a drop in the ocean, a photon in the big sky of Love, and that my bit of Love operates through this body and all its occupations.
It’s not much, but I like the implications.
- If I’m right, you are also a drop of capital-L-Love, which means we’re practically identical twins whether or not we like each other or are bombing the nuclear hell out of each other
- I’m comforted by the recycling potential, by the idea that my drop can come and go and come again, perhaps in a different suit, perhaps in the suit of someone who will not be bombing this time around.
- When I take care to create good relationships, I’m closer to the Truth of Love (and the truth of who i am) than when I am diminishing you in any way. I feel great when i act from Love. I feel like hell when i don’t.
- I like the combination of humility and grandness inherent in being a drop in the ocean of Love. No big deal on my own, but the source of all life when I remember who I am. Feels good being tiny and enormous.
Last thing. I have evidence. If i came from Portugal, Portuguese cooking (those huge sardines, say) would rock my socks. I’d love it or hate it or have some significant response to it. Same goes for the language, the smells, and the sounds of Portugal. I’m fairly sure i don’t come from Portugal.
But Love! At Ferg’s funeral, someone read a poem he’d written to his wife a year after she died. A love poem for a woman who’d been gone for a full year. The house wept. That’s because they recognized Love.
I struggle with the distant relationship i have with some of my brothers. I suspect i struggle because I come from Love. I’m homesick.
I can only contemplate work that builds bridges and raises self-esteem (yours and mine). It’s the only skill set that matters to me, because i come from Love.
My heart hardens, softens, breaks, and breaks wide open in response to Love. Over and over and over. In movies, in friendships, in the news, at weddings, at funerals. Portuguese sardines do not do this to me. Love does.
So. The truest answer i can get to is, I come from Love. I’m a wee bit of Love and i recognize Love when she shouts out the window to my homesick heart. I am Love’s kid, Love’s hope, Love’s chance on this planet, Love’s sappy-happy acolyte. That’s good enough for me.
Who are you? Are you Portuguese? Are you Love? Are you just a large sardine who doesn’t care one way or the other?
Thanks to Ferg for not being in that body, and for coming from Love, which is a great home town. Thanks to you for the conversation,