by Carol Ziel
Mortality is on my mind today. The delivery guys just brought my on sale Martha Stewart fade free, stain free, blue fir wall to wall carpeting. It had a twenty-year warranty which clinched the deal. I figured that I had about the same warranty. Eventually the rug would fade around the time that I was fading, and they could carry us out together. It wasn’t any personal morbidity that had me meditating on my numbered days. My five-year-old grandson has been telling me daily that I am getting old. He notes in wonder that my hair is getting browner. Of course he means grayer, which is a color he hasn’t mastered yet. I wish my hair was getting browner, or redder.
So I am sitting in front of the radio bemused with my accelerating aging process and the symbolism of my rug when I hear about Donna Summer’s death. A part of me dies with her. We both arrived on the scene about the same time. She was singing ”Bad Girl” when I was trying to embrace the “bad girl within”. That was my anthem for a few years, along with “She Works Hard for the Money”, and “Disco Queen”. This was a period of serial births and deaths. I was constantly stretching out of my skin to embrace parts of myself that I could not even name. My love of yoga, tofu and natural peanut butter, running, and fruit juice fasting had to die to make room for marijuana and alcohol. My farmer john overalls and Birkenstocks had to demise to make room for slinky black Danskin body suits and four-inch heals.
Eventually I found my way to a spirituality that supported the best of who I am and could be. However, my persona as a disco queen had to die to create space for a spiritual me to grow. That was painful , too. A veritable dark night of the soul.
I am sitting on the edge of my garden as I catalogue these deaths. I began planting it six months after I bought my house. I was diagnosed with a brain tumor–and then ovarian tumors that were presumed cancerous, two knee replacement surgeries, and many years of trauma therapy. Each diagnosis was a mini death, and the chronic emotional and physical pain was fearsome. However each time fear seemed ready to suck me into the quicksand of despair I planted something–coreopsis, lilies, rose of Sharon, fairy roses, butterfly bushes. Sometimes they lived, sometimes they died, but nature was incredibly generous. Birds and squirrels brought seed for things I would never have thought to plant–like the monkshood that is a hummingbird magnet.
My garden teaches me about the partnership between life and death, and lets me relax into my own cycles. This is where I belong. The first fireflies of the year are blinking in front of me now, and I accept that as affirmation for a life still to be lived.
Carol is a sixty-four-year-old gardener, grandmother, social worker, Goddess centered aging woman who has been writing with SCN Circle 6 for 2 1/2 years.