The Circle of Life

free write friday kellie elmore

(This post was inspired by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt)

The month of October was the anniversary of my father’s death and, as a result, I have been thinking of him. Snippets of memory have come through my mind: conversations we have had, things he used to do, outrageous statements he used to make. Sometimes it is quite difficult for me to grasp the fact that I will never see him again.

Thinking of my dad makes me think of others that I have loved and are no longer of this earth. Thinking of them brings a little sadness into my heart. The memories, however, sometimes make me smile. It feels good to think of them and to know that they are still alive in my thoughts.

Death is an integral part of our life and it is something that we cannot escape. Some try to by refusing to acknowledge the death of loved ones, by not attending funerals, by trying their best to look young. The Fountain of Youth is searched for all the world over: creams are lathered on faces, diets are followed, strenuous exercise routines practised, the surgeon’s knife welcomed.

And yet, the Circle of Life cannot be avoided. There comes a time when leaves fall off a tree, when the butterfly loses its flight, when the flower shrivels, and when a human being exhales the last breath. And when a life is over; somewhere else life is shown with the cry of a newborn infant. The miracle of a new life is admired and celebrated. It is a life that will become a part of the world that embraces it.

I think back to the death of my grandfather: a time of sadness and mourning. And yet that sadness was tempered with joy at the birth of my niece a few days before. We paid respects to our grandfather and yet it seemed fitting that the newborn infant let out a cry of life during the incense-scented mass. 

I look at my own babies now as they move towards adolescence and notice that, even though they are in a different environment to the one I grew up in, they are experiencing many of the same issues I did (the problems with friends and classmates, the homework, the searching for self). I look at myself and see much of what my parents experienced reflected in my life (the responsibility of raising children, the humdrum of housework, the need to guide our children in their decisions). There are differences; and yet there are similarities.

I find comfort in The Circle of Life. If this circle is broken then life will no longer be. 

What are your thoughts on The Circle of Life?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013

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46 thoughts on “The Circle of Life

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Colline. I can’t add anything – you said it all. In my case, not having children does not make me look differently on the circle of life – acceptance should always be there- but it makes my priorities different. Have a good weekend 🙂

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    1. I agree with you Paula – having children certainly changed my perspective a little on this topic. The amazing experience of birth did take away a little the loss you feel when mourning.

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  2. Your thoughts speak my own as I think of my grandma, my uncle and the others I’ve lost. Constant grieving as I try to comfort myself in knowing…or at least hoping I will see them again. This time of year, the cold and gloominess seems to make it worse.

    Thanks for a beautiful, poignant piece.

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  3. Oh Colline, my heart….this is beautiful. I am thinking of you. Love and ones spirit can NEVER cease to exist, just the physical being therefore your dad remains so very much alive…in all the good that is in you, he’s there. xoxo

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  4. Beautiful post about our lives here on Earth. I cannot add many words to yours – they speak the truth.

    i have lost several friends and relatives. My much loved grandmother left me 1988 and I kept dreaming of her every night for about ten years. She still stood on the steps to her house up on the hill, and waved when she saw me coming. I loved her so much. I think this was a prolonged goodbye, a way of saying she would not leave me until I was prepared.

    It’s good that your father lives in you.

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    1. The story of your grandmother reminds me of mine. I can still imagine her giving me her words of wisdom and encouragement. Thinking of her I am always grateful for the time I spent with her.

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    1. Thank you Angeline. The analogy came to mind easily as we are experiencing Autumn at the moment. The leaves are falling now – and yet during spring we will see new ones unfurl.

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  5. In my Wife’s culture the influence of the ancestors is very important and many rituals are aimed at ensuring that the Ancestors approve. In my culture it is good to remember your parents and those who preceded them. Both cultures are very similar except that the Ancestors of my Wife’s family are viewed as dangerous if they disapprove of things that the living family choose to do. It sometimes gets misused by living relatives seeking to make some finances. They tried it once with me (a presumed rich European) – I reminded them that we Scots also have ancestors and ours come with fiery crosses and swords if they feel their history has been unfairly dealt with. They backed off very sharply 😉

    Remembering your Father and keeping him alive in your mind is the most precious thing. He will always be there for you and you will hear his voice from afar as if he were standing next to you. It’s great that you feel this way.

    Yesterday on the bus a young Afro-Caribbean lady got on the bus with 3 children. She sat her eldest daughter – around 3 yo – next to me and apologised! I said no – no worries – with a smile. That young lady was so well behaved it was a pleasure to allow her to lean on me for support as we went along our journey. Her mum is the next generation and she will be the generation after that. And I was going out to reconnect with the railways where my Grand Father earned his living… That’s a circle of humanity isn’t it 🙂 Great Post Colline!

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    1. As I was reading your comment about ancestors, I smiled as I imagined your fiery ones pitted against the ancestors of your wife 🙂
      It is always a wonderful thing to see two, or even three, generations together. I remember the time when my oma was alive and she spent time with my mom, us, and my sister’s child. We loved that there were four generations together.

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  6. This is beautifully said! I can relate to all of it. I thought of writing about the circle also but now you have said it all. ( can’t express myself in eng that well!) Thanks it really touched my heart to read it all.

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    1. I am always grateful that I had visited South Africa and seen him a month before he left this world. It does sadden me though that I was not able to see him in his final hours – but that is the consequence of living so far from him.

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  7. This is so beautiful Colline! As I was reading about your father, I could not help but think of my mother; so true your words and feelings. So difficult to believe a parent is gone. And yet life goes on. Sometimes I think she comes by every now and then to sprinkle her fairy dust on those she has left behind. Keeps us straight and calm!

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  8. A lovely way to commemorate your dad. I was also reminded of a funeral I went to not long ago, where there was a baby, & also a pregnant woman, which made me feel happy in spite of the sadness – like you say, it is very life affirming.

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    1. I came to this realization while speaking with my girls. A lot of what they speak about is what used to worry me. Instead now they have a technological component added 🙂

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  9. Thank you for sharing your circle of life with us.
    Your discussion about life and death, missing those who have passed reminded me of my father. He died in 1991 (expectantly). My mother never forgave him. Her spirit died the day he did; her body held together until 2010. When she passed, it was relief, not grief, that filled her hospital room, and the small ceremony as we interred her ashes next to my dad. She had been very clear, no wake, no viewing, no funeral service, no flowers.
    For her, the circle had broken links; she lost my father, then her best friend and neighbor, and her joy of life. I still talk to my dad, and now include my mother in the conversation — the mother I had before 1991. The person afterwards was a shell — my other mother.

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    1. It is a sad thing indeed when a person is unable to accept that death is a part of life. And that while we mourn the death of a person, we can celebrate the life of others.
      Thank you for sharing your story with us Phylor.

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    2. Wow, there is a story to be told in how your mom continued on in your father’s absence and the effect it had on you. It is as though she died right along with him in 1991. There is so much I want to ask you about Phylor, such as what do you think would have made a difference for her?

      My heart goes out to you because as her adult child, you would have needed her presence beyond what she was able to give you. I often think of how my own surviving parent will cope without the other. They too, are very close and I am concerned about how I will best support the surviving parent. They were sweethearts since early adulthood. My heart aches to think about one of my parents without the other. I don’t think that my presence could ever in any small way, replace what they would lose with each other.

      I have always known that as a child of my parents, they were the center of each others universe and I was a floating attachment or add-on. I don’t mean this in a harsh way. It is a comfort to know that my parents are well-connected. It has provided a stable backdrop for my existence. Humbly, speaking, I know that I am their child and not an equal or peer for their generation. There are things that I can’t relate to in their generation that would bring them comfort if I could. And I so wish that I could. I do treasure the friendship they have with another couple they have known since I was very young and continues to this day.

      Phylor, will you write more about this? I would like to know how you coped with this loss of your father and the spiritual absence of your mother.

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      1. I am sorry I didn’t acknowledge your email sooner! I want really read it over, and then drop by your blog for a visit. You ask interesting questions, and some that easily tie into my family dynamics and dysfunctionality. Thanks for dropping by and I look forward to a further dialogue.

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  10. I don’t have children, but my partner has 2 adult children.
    So the circle of life for me are:
    *my extended family (which includes nieces and nephews)
    *what I create and leave behind on this Earth (in addition other things I’ve done for others).

    I’ve been thinking lately of circle of life since I lost a sister several yrs. ago (she was 1 yr. younger) and now my 84 yr. father is dying of cancer.

    The continuation of the circle…would be ie. through a 5 yr. niece who was born on the same day as I. (yea, it is cool when that happens in a family.) I noticed when visiting last month, her natural interest in words –printing them and learning to read them on her own. I am professionally and by training a librarian, so of course, I’m secretly glad. I plan to carefully feed this natural passion of hers!

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        1. That is a pity. I have discovered that Skype helps to keep in touch with faraway family members. Whenever we speak to my mom, she needs to keep aside over 2 hours to speak to everyone 🙂

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  11. Wow Colline, beautiful tribute to both your father and your grandfather. I dread the passing of my parents. I try not to think of it. When I do consider it, the grief is overwhelming. Does it get better? Does it become bittersweet? What troubles me most is not being able to just talk to them if I want to. Funny, how I now take that for granted – being able to talk to them whenever I like. Someone who lost their father a few years ago told me that the finality of it was the worst part.

    Lately, I’ve been telling my Dad things that he may not know about how I feel about him. Recently, I told him about a woman I know whose father was absent from her life and how she suffered his absence and how it also angered her because he had chosen to be absent. I told my Dad that I was so lucky to have a father in my life who would always be there for me and would not abandon me no matter how difficult being a Dad could be at times. I don’t think my Dad knew how much he mattered to me or how important he was in my life. He was visibly touched by the exchange. And, I was thinking that I was glad that I shared that with him before it was too late to do so.

    With children, life does go on, doesn’t it? Perhaps that is one of the best reasons for having family – the continuity and the knowledge that there is someone after you to carry on and that you are not all alone.

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    1. It is good that you tell your Dad these things Darlene because the reality is that as we all get older the chance of death does increase. We seem to want all our loved ones to live as long as we do. Unfortunately that cannot happen. I focus on the moments we were able to spend together – and I am always happy that I did take the time to create those memories with them.

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