Endearments of Loss

Willamette River 2/10/18/naomi khan

Willamette River 2/10/18/naomi khan

Beth On Her Way/collage art by naomi khan

Beth On Her Way/collage art by naomi khan

Beth's Tree on Day of Endearments by naomi khan

Beth's Tree on Day of Endearments by naomi khan

After Death is Birth/ collage art by Naomi Khan

After Death is Birth/ collage art by Naomi Khan

On ground hogs day of 2018 I lost a dear love in my life.  I am wearing my black tattooed skin for the grief of the physical loss of this one for at least a year.  You may hear me wailing and singing on street corners for some time for such grief I hold, such deep love brings this out in one.  I beg you not to lock me up for such raw and messy loving, as you will be tempted.

Day of Endearments in honor of Beth Malouf  2/10/2018 by Naomi Khan

The day before the endearment. (internment)
I am sitting in my river office with tears flowing experiencing the beauty of Beth and gathering a few of her many blessings and teachings to me.  I am grateful to the Willamette  River rushing by to help carry the salty grief along to the ocean as Heron sits patiently on her perch.  I know Beth, except for the tears, would love this scene. She was always hoping I wouldn't make her cry.  I was always hoping she would cry more.

Blessings, Gatherings and Teachings from Beth—  only a few of many.

  Amazingly Beth kept getting more and more beautiful as she grew younger toward her death and she was always beautiful-still is.

She looked especially good in hats.  And loved texture and colors, especially eggplant and green.

She was always acutely aware of how her journey was causing others pain or discomfort. Her bald head, her loss of muscle, her being in a wheel chair— She was aware of how some people quit looking at her aliveness and beauty but at their own fear of death, sickness, pain and she kept showing up anyway.

Her epic struggle and refusal to cross each threshold of letting go any sooner than absolutely necessary on her way to her final letting go and the resultant grace she held each time she did, makes me feel in my body the deep knowing of how struggle and grace are uniquely tied together.  As I have opportunities to risk outside my comfort zone may I remember this teaching and the messy-ness of it all.
Her genuine smile, the expressions of her face, her twinkle in her eyes and her eyebrows, when she had them , that would raise up. uuu she would say,  in delight, curiosity, love and play, a unique view on this or that, this curiosity often won out over her pain, fear, doubt. shadows and demons.   I was touched, changed, amazed and inspired and of course still am.

She had no shyness about treating her stuffed elephant Elle and her groundhog Shadow as totally real, which they were of course. I learned from her father she had at least 50 of these beings  she tended and loved over her life.
Her beautiful shy audacity—for example this past Halloween she wore her elephant pajamas to chemo. another was when she wanted to ask Hospice Workers, as she was listening to the outrageous money cost of dying, if there was a Valentine day special— and many more.

 She would never allow me, and as far as I can tell, anyone else, to have a conversation only about her.  And she always deeply listened and remember, asked good questions, brought her unique wisdom  and I am sure still is.

I was sorry I didn’t get to be more in the woods with her as she had so much knowledge of aliveness and the  specificity and interconnection of all things. When she was no longer walking in the woods by tree and creek, I would send her pictures of where I was and she would tell me things about the land I was in that I had not idea of.

She was always surprising me with her next adventure, in these life affirming cancer years, adventures  against all odds of their ever happening,, I would show up one day and miraculously there was a plan and off they, whoever was involved,  One of her last plans to go dog sledding didn’t make it.  Today I thought maybe next winter we all go dog sledding in her honor.

Since I have known her She was often scared and in doubt of herself and lived her love into the world anyway.  

She held her own sovereignty and integrity and council right up to the  very edges of this earth life adventure and I am sure she still is. She taught me much about honoring others sovereignty and timing  even when it wasn’t what she wanted. I watched her patience with others and her own process and respect of all.I witnessed in this how we grew and love flourished.

In all her decisions she considered all of who she loved.
And in her loving was often caught risking way outside her comfort zone in her quiet humble way that from the outside looked as easy as honey slowly flowing into a good cup of tea.  I knew there was also a deep alive wild often terrifying struggle that came from the depths and shadows, then a deep contemplation that allowed this look of ease. These bone grinding wrestling matches returned her to her deep knowing joy and innocence she came in with. The many faceted jewel of who walked in the skin on this earth with the day name of Beth Malouf.

She was and still is wise and innocent and deeply kind, a very old soul as my astrologer said (I can see her face crinkle as she would say to me I don’t know what to do with that, as she did not believe in old or your young souls.

She was generous and giving and a champion of right action. Even with chemo brain she would drag me off to stores to donate backpacks to kids.
Everywhere she was showing up for marches, supporting children and many others. She deeply cared for the world, the community she lived, the environment and us humans as well as the planet.

She had her humor no matter what, through it all, I am sure she will continue to demonstrate this humor from the other side of the veil.  I will be on the watch for how this shows up in my dreams and day life. You might be too.

Beth and I met as she had heard of me and my drumming and mask making ways and asked me to lead a UU women's retreat.  We feel into deep connection through that process.  In our many  years of meeting for coffee, before and during the cancer life affirming years, she would tell me of her fears, inner demons, struggles, as I would tell her mine but more of her wonder, gratitudes,  her loves and her gentle service to the world. her deep questions and unique imaginations.  

Beth was the mom I always hoped to be.   She was determined  to have her daughter know she is her own unique being, connected but separate from her. She delighted in her daughters imaginations and encouraged her in every way, allowed her her mistakes. I loved the stories of each stage of her daughters life and Beth’s delight. She had a gentle guiding and patience for this unfolding of the wonder of Amelia.    A mature parents path, one most of us could not do or have. She had the deep knowing of what it takes to nourish and protect such innocence and beauty in this crazy world of ours. Beth came in knowing and kept that knowing through her life.  Such patience she had with all of us.   She didn’t know how much she was teaching me about being a good grandmother for as I jokingly but sadly truthfully tell my kids I am only ready now to be a wise parent and even begin to see who they are not my own projections —   and so much more  (my tears are now filling an ocean      
Willamette River on the day of Endearment Photo by Naomi Khan

Beth had a big YES to Love in many forms,  and the courage to follow those loves. Not so simple but she stuck with it.  As she accepted all of us and our foibles and messy-ness much more than she did her own and   she deftly wove all of us into more deeply loving ourselves and each other— in the beams of her love, she gave us the power to find ourselves and each other in the dark in ways we would have been able to do without her.  . A master of diversity, the wise fool magician and village building genius she was and still is.   

I am sad I wasn’t closer to her sooner but grateful I was able to be there later, as to be loved by such a one is a gift beyond words. I made mistakes, sometimes did not listen closely, left at times in my own fear of facing her pain and death and thus my own pain and death, acted selfishly or harshly. said amazingly insensitive and stupid things   And she loved me any way and she forgave me— each of us—  more and more as she entered this mysterious  passage that she is in.  She grew clearer and clearer in her love of life, us , the beauty of humans (good for me to remember as I have not always been a fan) tended and listened deeply to what was true for her.  
With these things and more she continues to touch me and teach me bless me.. And I know the gifts she has left us will continue to surprise and touch us in ways we cannot yet imagine as we feel her larger presence in her physical absence in our lives.  

In these past four years of cancer and life affirming adventures, sorrow and griefs.  Beth wasn’t going to indulge in feeling into her death as she was concentrating fiercely on her life and on Amelia’s life and her connections to the living. Despite what Drs said or others predicted, life risking mistakes made,  she was in a beautiful soulful denial of death that broke the usual rules and did it by way of following her own truth. And her body responded. We responded. The very Universe responded. This was a force of nature  akin to the moon rising and the sun setting. oh to know such a one.

In this past four years The Beth we all know, would put on her Wonder Woman Cape and with great  care of details, courage and love make difficult
decisions for her death and life. take actions sometimes kicking and screaming all the way, but none the less do them, When I thought she was not even going to get out anymore she would call and say lets go to the river, or take me to a stream, or let’s go shopping with Amelia today. or do you want tickets to her play  YES, I would say as often as I could stand this bravery, love, beauty and rawness.

She would often say something like “ I have a choice today to give into something.”  “What are you thinking about that?” I would reply. and she would say, up until her very last day,  “I am not ready to do that yet.” “ Okay I say and off we go with her swinging her magic wonder woman lariat pulling us up from the abyss. She did this so often we were lulled into thinking she would never die. and in a sense that is also still true.

On the day before her death she kicked me out of her room saying I have much thinking to do, it will be a big day tomorrow. The next morning  she said I am ready to let go and that evening she did with many of her loves around her, with her room full of lights, pictures and color, with Randy her lover and partner  holding her in his arms on one side  and her daughter holding her hand on the other, the rest of us near by. And after a day of saying her loving good byes with her last words being of humor and love she died.  I can only hope to live and die this well.

Beth lived her life as a ceremony. She  knew in her wisdom that it is good to have places of particular focus,to remember and have further dialogs. She knew the value of place to our specificity of love and she tended place with great care and thought and imagination up until the moment of her death.

In these later times we sat outside looking at the her beloved pond, the trees, and beauty, particularly crow and squirrel in this yard she loves, and house she loves, plants and insects and later on from her soft chair inside.  and then she would kicked me out so she could rest as she often did in these cancer life affirming times.

She lived her life with care, generosity, curiosity, her specificity, wonder and tending to the details of beauty, the present and future—  and we were all a part of that amazing wise foolish beautiful tapestry of love.  She tended her death the way she lived her life.  I only hope I can be as clear strong, deeply listen, ask good questions, be courageous despite pain fear  doubt, the demons that plague us,  be open and vulnerable, thoughtful, soulful, hang in their with the humor of it all, say yes to love wherever and whenever and in whatever shape it shows up and have the courage to follow through, keep forgiving all, including the self, come into and fall out of grace over and over,  get over myself, and when I fall get up again until the earth claims me which I get it may be a lot longer or shorter than my limited mind can imagine and to show up in this life until I die transmute or transform or whatever happens in that mystery.

 I am hoping Beth hears me sing to her today as I promised her 30 days of song and praise. I am sure it will be more like my life time anf that will live on in all I touch so of course many life times of song and praise. She laughed and  smiled and said she be would be listening for me and I believe she is. listening for us and to us.

and there is so much more to sing to her, so many more tears to shed and so many more gifts we who knew her will continue to unwrap like precious rubies as Rumi would say, as we live our lives hopefully more present and with more courage then before— being  that we have been blessed by one such as Beth.  And I know each of you has your unique and rich versions of this story that will live on in you and touch the worlds within worlds in ways never imagined before.  So, Yes! there is definitely a Valentine Day Special that is a bargain for twice the price.   with love and my deep sweet salty tears, naomi khan