May 21 – Mortality and a Dancing Queen

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.

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6 responses to “May 21 – Mortality and a Dancing Queen

  1. What an inspiring post, I really loved this. I was thinking of life and death when I awoke this morning. It’s the anniversary of my father’s death from lung cancer many years ago and nearly 3 years since I underwent surgery for breast cancer. I’ve developed a love of the outdoors and gardens that I never had before being diagnosed with the cancer, I find peace and encouragement in nature. It was such a blessing to read your post this morning and feel a kinship with another woman who understands. 🙂

  2. I like how you recognize the cycles of “serial births and deaths.” We don’t have to like them. Sometimes it’s difficult to let go of the deaths, but let go we must, in order to make room for the births. Nice surprises often follow, like the seeds and hummingbirds you didn’t anticipate.

    On a lighter note, I had to laugh at your grandson who notices the color of your hair. My own five-year old grandson is on a campaign to make me dye my hair dark brown. He says everyone in the family has dark hair except me, and he wants me to have dark hair again.

  3. What a beautiful post, Carol! You speak for me, perhaps for many of us, eloquently. Having been through parallel losses and trauma, I recognize the events that you call mini-deaths. For me, each felt like a gateway through which I passed into a new life, rather than a death. Each forced me to give birth to a stronger, wiser me, the me I have become. I guess that’s why I don’t fear the death I know is coming closer every day, because I view it as just the ultimate gateway. My carpeting will outlive me. And children call my hair “white”, even though the hair coloring I use is distinctly labeled “Extra-light Ash Blonde.” I love that we can connect through your writing. This is SO true, and so expertly written.

  4. Your post is beautiful, Carol. I don’t know what I like best, the beauty of the writing, the wisdom of its content or the vital spirit that fills it. I look forward to more of your writing, and your ongoing well-being. btw, I think of my increasing grey hairs as proof that I’ve been here; I did a bunch and I claim my cronehood.more with each passing year. Here’s to grey power and the wisdom we’ve earned.

  5. I am new to SCN – and when I first read this I wondered who this was, writing my life! Thank you for your words of wisdom and understanding. I don’t much like getting older, and my graying hair, but they represent the life I have lived, and am living, right up to the point I can say, whoo-hoo, what a ride!

  6. Carol, thank you for sharing your journey and your positive attitude with us. Our hair may grey, our bodies may droop, change and wrinkle, but inside the light still burns brightly and we have much to give to the world. Have a wonderful gardening day.

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