Happy apocalyptic solstice day! Welcome to winter!
So, as expected, no end of the world today. There was an event of celestial proportions however. Today is the day of the winter solstice. The 'shortest' day of the year for those of us in the northern hemisphere. The darkest day in a manner of speaking. The solstice officially occurred at 6:12 am EST or 11:12 GMT. While the amount of light will now become longer the cold continues to descend on us here in the Northeast.
I kinda wish it would snow.
I kinda wish I lived in a warmer climate.
I kinda wish I never had to experience this day for it's a trigger day. I hate them. This week is fraught with them. This particular day is not as difficult as some others this week, largely because there is much in spiritual meaning that resonates with me and it brings comfort.
The winter solstice has fairly deep spiritual meaning in many cultures. They all revolve around re-birth. About celebrating coming out of darkness and into light. Perhaps then it is no surprise that the birth of Jesus is celebrated this season.
The meaning of the solstice never really resonated with me until December 21st, 2004. THAT felt like the end of my world. My own personal apocalyptic hell. It was that day the wake was held for my daughter. The day I saw her again, after leaving her body at the hospital, after an autopsy, after three days of not seeing her and adjusting to her death, the day I saw her IN A LITTLE WHITE CASKET. OMG, there is nothing that can prepare you for that moment, either. She had on her favorite clothes I had brought in. She was covered with her pink big flower blankie she slept with every night. She had her yellow lovey blanket tucked under her arm that had her name on it. She had her favorite kitties, Duncan and Duncan. She had make up on! She was surrounded with pink and white flowers. She had angels around her literally and figuratively. It was so surreal. So wrong.
Someone who came to her wake said to me afterwards there was so much light around her as she lay in her little white casket. That it was as perfect a day as could be given the circumstances that we gather to pay our respects and honor Meghan and for some to say good-bye to her because the energy of the day was about the transition from darkness to light. About her spiritual re-birth in a way. Sadness to the realization she was a light being now. Her soul was free to shine down on us, to guide us, to shower us with love and divine energy.
It was also a night of light and love beyond any and all expectation. I was completely overwhelmed with the endless line of people who came that night. It was cold. It had snowed a pretty significant amount the day before. Some drove for many hours just to come pay their respects, only to drive home again afterward. The calling hours were 5-8 pm. The line was out the door all night. They waited for an hour, easily. As their line snaked through the funeral home, they saw pictures and a slide show. They saw some of her favorite things, mostly cats, her drawings, and a plaque made by the funeral director's wife for us. They were probably a bit surprised to walk through the door to some rousing Disney tunes like 'Under the Sea', 'Circle of Life', 'Everybody Wants to Be a Cat', and 'You Can Fly'. They were probably most baffled by 'Mambo no 5', by Lou Bega. One of her favorite songs at the time! This was about Meggie. A celebration of her life. She was an upbeat and feisty little girl. It only made sense to have her favorite music playing!
I stood there for 3 hours, watching person after person kneel before her open casket, cross themselves, shed a tear or outright bawl, and then hug us to express their condolences. Many cried. Some couldn't even speak, we consoled them! The time flew by. The people did not stop coming. Some I didn't even know, they were complete strangers. Some, unbeknownst to me at the time, were the various personnel who attended to her the day she died. Some were other parents of twins who knew of me but never met me. Some had lost their children and just wanted to be there to support us, even though we'd never met. Some were old school or work friends we'd not spoken to in years, some who didn't even know we had the twins, who somehow found out and were compelled to come to pay their respects. It was deeply touching. Over 300 people came. Our pediatrician came towards the end. She brought 3 angel bears. She hugged us. She shed tears. She said there were only 3 bears left at the store. One for each of the children. Meggie's is in her room, on her dresser, to this day.
My doula sisters, oh my sweet doula sisters... They came, many of them. They were there at the beginning. They were among the last to leave. They sat vigil, they held the space just as they do in birth. They mothered me. They got me a chair. They handed me water periodically. They gave me soft tissues. They checked in to see how I was doing, if I needed anything. They told me how beautiful she looked. What they remembered about her. Mostly, they just sat and beamed energy and strength my way. Silently empowering me to be able to stand there for 3 non-stop hours in the surreal experience of watching people kneel before my dead little girl and dissolve into tears with THEIR pain and then accept handshake after handshake, hug after hug, condolence after condolence. I was numb, but at the same time, having the doula love and support made that evening so much more bearable for me, I am forever grateful. They went above and beyond, creating a network of doulas to check on me, bring me food, lend an ear or a hug for six months after she died. I am so blessed to be a part of such an amazing community of women.
As I left that night, the stars were brightly shining in the sky. I noticed the belt of Orion. I later learned Orion means 'breaking forth of the light' and symbolizes spirit. Supposedly, in some spiritual teachings, it is the gateway to "Heaven". I don't know what it actually means, if anything, but it gave me some comfort that night and to this day, I gaze to Orion's belt in the Winter Sky with awe and hope.
I pondered how every December 21st, every first day of winter for the rest of my life, would forever be associated with a 'trigger' day for me. It would also always be the day of my daughter's wake. Part of me didn't want to forget that day, part of me wanted to be able to share it with her twin, only 3 at the time, who most likely wouldn't remember. So I took pictures during our private time with Meghan at the funeral home, before our calling hours. People freaked out. They couldn't believe I was taking pictures of my dead daughter! I wanted to capture the emotion. The surreal beauty of the room. The serenity of her face. Her brothers exploring her 'special box' and saying their private good-byes. Of course, the same people who objected to the photos also freaked out when they found out I opted for an open casket.
Get over it. She's mine. I can do what I want. I am momma. I know what's best for myself and my family. Right now, it's preserving this moment for when and if my boys or myself wish to revisit it someday. Some may say it's morbid. So be it. If you've read my blog before this day, you probably have the sense I'm pretty mama bear when it comes to my kids and pretty comfortable in expressing my feelings. Besides, she was as beautiful as she could've been. Yes, she looked sort of like a doll. I found the make up amusing. I remember thinking if she had put it on, the lip gloss would have been on the outside of her lips and I was really tempted to 'fix' that. I was also tempted to mess up her hair, since those pigtails never stayed in place very long.
This is my 8th winter solstice without Meghan. Now, more than ever, I feel the power of the light, of the rejection of the darkness. I hear a little voice, 'this little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine...'
With so much negative energy in the world. With so much violence and lack of goodwill toward our fellow man, now, more than ever, we need to find our light. We need to let it shine. We need to reject the darkness, the negativity, judgement and blame. Life is too damn short to do anything else.
Another song comes to mind, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me".
Be grateful for this day and every day. Choose love. Shine your light and bring others into it with you.
Meghan wouldn't want it any other way. Well, maybe with a touch of pink and purple...