What happens to our hearts
Sunday night Patti and I began watching "It's a sin", a television series about the the arrival of the AIDS epidemic in the UK (on HBO Max) in the 1980s. The series brings to life the impact of the spread of disease on the life and deaths, of a group of friends, and the people in their lives.
I was drawn back to a moving experience I had while doing some organizational development work in support of the AIDS Bereavement and Resiliency Project of Ontario (ABPRO).
AIDS activists created ABPRO to address the experience of grieving that grows when we lose people, over and over again, friends, lovers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, in our families, and in our wider human family. It was born in a time when loss of life came so quickly and was so widespread. There was not enough time and space for people affected to be with those who die, in person, and in our hearts, to work through the tender, and terrible, emotional journey.
Yesterday, President Joe Biden, addressed the nation as we passed 500,000 people dying in the last year.
...that’s what has been so cruel. So many of the rituals that help us cope, that help us honor those we loved, haven’t been available to us. The final rites with family gathered around. The proper homegoing, showered with stories and love. Tribal leaders passing [with]out the final traditions of sacred cultures on sacred lands.
This morning I heard Eddie Glaude Jr, Mississippi born and raised, black author and Princeton University professor, speak the wisdom that lives in his southern black church tradition,
"When people don't die right, they haunt."
There are many people, and communities, that have experienced more than their share of loss of people they love -- black, brown, and indigenous communities, older people, people in congregated living environments--nursing homes, group homes, prisons-- senior citizens, people with disabilities, people incarcerated.
There are others, myself included, whose loved ones have been less immediately affected. But I know in my bones, that we do not escape this grief, we carry it. I know I do.
We can pretend, and tell stories that just "us", does not include some, and we are not affected by what happens to "them", but these are just stories we make up.
We are all connected.
Yesterday President Biden, gave us all a glimpse of how we are connected. None of us are getting out of here alive. None of us will not be touched by the loss of someone we love. He walked us into spaces where loss lives,
...the everyday things — the small things, the tiny things — that you miss the most. That scent when you open the closet. That park you go by that you used to stroll in. That movie theater where you met. The morning coffee you shared together. The bend in his smile. The perfect pitch to her laugh.
We are all connected in what happens in our hearts. In the quiet of the early morning, I could feel that.