Leaves and Lives Falling Away

If we could,
like the trees,
practice dying,
do it every year
just as something we do—
like going on vacation
or celebrating birthdays—
it would become
as easy a part of us
as our hair or clothing.

Someone would show us how
to lie down and fade away
as if in deepest meditation,
and we would learn
about the fine dark emptiness,
both knowing it and not knowing it,
and coming back would be irrelevant.

Whatever it is the trees know
when they stand undone,
surprisingly intricate,
we need to know also
so we can allow
that last thing
to happen to us
as if it were only
any ordinary thing,

leaves and lives
falling away, the spirit, complex,
waiting in the fine darkness
to learn which way
it will go.
~Grace Butcher, “Learning from Trees” from Poetry of Presence

If I were to die as a leaf,
I would want to change my clothes just bit by bit,
overnight oozing gradually to scarlet,
bleeding into the green a little bit more,
until I’m so unrecognizable,
I’ll seem brand new.

That would be ideal.

The reality is a fading to grey and brown,
my edges withered and torn,
bug-bitten with holes and weather-beaten bruised,
dangling and fearful of letting go
and so forgotten.

So I remember:
no one, not one, falls
without its Maker knowing.
No one, not one, dies
without being made brand new.

4 thoughts on “Leaves and Lives Falling Away

  1. Have you read Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End?
    Is the retreat based on the book by Atul Gawande, Being Mortal?

    I’m having a bad day living under the cloud of sadness today.
    I think it is because of my dad’s pain and grief, because two of his close friends died last week.
    He talked with them on the phone often while in isolation.
    My dad almost 98 is in personal care and I haven’t been able visit in room for two days short of seven months.
    This isn’t the end of life care I want my father to have.
    My dad is not at the edge of death.
    He has a very sharp mind,
    but this isn’t the way I want him to live his last days, weeks, months, or years away from family feeling lonely.
    How can I continue to do this to my father?
    One of his friends who died was 97 and he has been quoted as saying…
    I’d rather die feeling loved,
    than live feeling alone.
    So sad. So sad.
    I just feel sad today.
    Thank you for listening.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a tragedy for all but this week a local care center reported over 70 COVID cases in staff and residents and 10 resident deaths. That is devastating. I’m so sad for you and your dad that you cannot be together during these final months of his long long life.


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