We've been away with my husband's family to attend a burial at sea this past week and I am happy that upon returning we've been greeted by a quiet fog and an empty weekend to rest and refuel. Funerals, even under the best of circumstances can be tough to navigate and helping my boys to understand what was happening and why was my primary task to manage. I've learned that during these times of uncertainty of what to say, explain or share with them, the little ones will ask the questions they need to and there is really nothing more to do than create a safe container for them to live through these harder life experiences.
The ceremony ended up being really lovely, and although the evening was picturesque and full of sentiment on different levels, I didn't take any pictures at all. I think it was because I just didn't feel like it was my story to capture and tell, but I know I will always remember those red, white and yellow rose petals floating away on the wavy ocean and the literal letting go that was this beautiful burial at sea.
There was the sadness of loss as well as the collection of memories, each wrapped in different individual narratives into a complex labyrinth of relationships that felt very present and just beneath the surface. So many stories and emotions colliding all at once.
I saw so compellingly that there is really no way to singularly define a person. It was a practicum in relationship physics and a reminder that one life is impossibly layered with those around them and can't ever truly be pulled apart and cleanly separated to stand alone. Lives don't really have true boundaries. There is a gray area in the place between where you begin and I end. Our lives are dynamic and powerful forces that seep into the hearts and minds of everyone around us, especially those closest in familial proximity no matter the physical or relational distance. It's unavoidable, and so everyone has a different tale to tell, different memories to reflect upon. We only hold the touchstones of our experiences with one another, and then we are left to fill in the blanks with second hand narratives and other people's truths.
It became so clear to me how each of us then is the keeper of these stories - our own unique pieces of someone's else's life that no one else is able to touch or feel - and how important these narratives might be. I also realized how easy it can be to take on someone else's story as our own truth and how that can unknowingly shift our perception of a person simply by proxy.
My head has been swimming in this a bit and I'm not sure what to make of it all, but ultimately I think it's confirmation of just how deeply complex yet resonant and meaningful our lives and relationships really are.