A few weeks ago one of my most favorite aunts passed away. Jeannde was one of those very special souls who embraced life with joy, openness, and wonder no matter the circumstances. She had a way of bringing light wherever she went. Melissa, my wife, and I had the gift to say goodbye to her a few days before her passing. The evening when we walked into her room, I could feel a profound peace, beauty, and light. At the time, she was in limbo, not quite in this life but not quite in another. She wasn't scared but, in fact, at peace. She was clearly in a lot of bodily discomfort, but her spirit was palpably in total acceptance. We managed to exchange a few powerful words, letting each other know how much we meant to one another; saying, "I love you"; and then, eventually, saying, "Goodbye."
I left that night with a deep peace that still reverberates in my heart as I write this two-weeks later. Jeannde showed me that it is possible to continue to stay curious, not only in the twilight years but even up to the moment of death. I always like to tell others that at the ripe age of 87, she was coming to my yoga classes, bending, twisting, and breathing, just like every other 20/30/40-something student in the room. I once told her that a few of my students were inspired by her presence in the room. She couldn't understand why. Age meant nothing to her except for the fact that her body was quite a bit less responsive than it had been in her younger years as a dancer.
I share Jeannde's story here because she taught me that circumstances don't make the light dim within us. At each threshold, no matter what we face, we are at choice to stay open. And it is a choice. Literally, on her deathbed, on the threshold of the great unknown, in agonizing physical discomfort, she was sharing her heart, expressing her love, and accepting the calling that it was time for her to go. Not only did the circumstances she was in not dim her. They only seemed to add to her luminescence and magical capacity to stay in awe.