Given the time change, I'm not sure whether today or tomorrow marks the anniversary of my sister Flora's death. But she is much on my mind. I am catching up to the age at which she decided to leave us and move on into what she called, when I saw her a short time before her death, "the next great adventure." I say "decided" advisedly, because I do think it was a decision--a decision to spare herself and her family the few months of pain, indignity and dependence that surely awaited her, had she decided to live longer. Instead, she crossed that threshold, as I understand it, peacefully and without trauma.
Flora had "done the work"--that is, she had spent decades exploring the inner life and the life of the spirit (are they the same?) and living as mindfully as she was able. She paid attention to the body she was given to move through life in, thoughtful about what she ate and how she cared for it. She paid attention to the physical pains that are sure to visit us as we grow old, as well to the way she spent her time with those she loved, and those who loved her. She chose a path--Ridhwan--that led her toward the kind of consciousness that I myself seek with my meditation practice. She was an unwavering optimist, and steadfastly maintained a belief that I find quite difficult to share--that the world is moving inexorably towards a new and fuller consciousness, in time for humanity to save itself from the self-destructiveness we see everywhere today.
We were not close in childhood. As little ones, we bickered--as I suppose most little ones do. In the nursery we shared, I pulled her hair. She was mean to me. We suffered different wounds. Sent off to different boarding schools, we grew apart rather than together, and our relationship for the greater part of our adult years--our marriages, divorces--was formal rather than close and loving. I left England when I was in my early 20s, returning only for the occasional visit with the family. She made her life there, and chose the path of consciousness far earlier than I. For years, I simply thought that she was weird. Our relationship was prickly.
I'm thankful that we came to a mutual acknowledgment in our later years. Though geographically far apart--she in the lovely Cotswolds, I in distant Southern California--we found ourselves on parallel paths and discovered that real love goes deeper than physical proximity. We were somehow able to become the brother and sister we had never been before, or at least had not recognized. Now that she has, as I like to say, "moved on" into the great mystery that lies beyond the before as well as the after of our lives, I miss her presence here on the earth she loved and wanted to preserve and protect. She was one of the good ones. We need more like her.