Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Return to Sea

I've posted an online album of photos and videos that Nancy and I took to share with you all.  ~A

Nancy, Malik, Andy & Susan
On Monday afternoon, July 16, 2012, we fulfilled Rahima's request to have her ashes scattered upon the sea. It was hard and so beautiful. The day was perfect in many ways.

I met Rahima's sisters, Nancy and Susan, and her former husband Malik in Scituate, Mass. We borrowed a big red pick-up truck and four kayaks and went to Pegotty Beach. The weather was pleasant—not too hot, calm sea.

As the four of us paddled out, I was mindful that we were making this excursion on behalf of family and friends, some at a great distance. We chatted a bit, but mostly paddled in silence.

We took our time arriving at the rock that Rahima had designated as her "mermaid put-in spot" near the seawall, about a mile from the beach. After we floated there for awhile, Malik said the Sufi invocation:

Toward the One,
The perfection of love, harmony and beauty,
The only being
United with all the illuminated souls
Who form the embodiment of the master
The spirit of guidance

And I poured the ashes into the clear water. I think we all felt a spasm of grief at the finality of this act.

Rahima as we knew her in the flesh is no more, but her spirit lives on as does our profound gratitude for having shared this life together. We sang a couple of songs of blessing and then each floated off for some time alone. I took a swim.

Eventually, we paddled back to shore where we visited the church that Rahima attended as a child with her family. We poured a portion of her ashes, which we had reserved for the purpose, into the memorial garden where there is a family plaque and where her mother's ashes were interred three years ago.

As I related in the CaringBridge journal, when Rahima was 22 years old she wrote a letter for those who would remain in the event of her death. (This was near the time she had found the Sufi path, but when she still was known as Carol.) Her words still speak:

March 5, 1976

It is a bit strange to be writing this but I feel the need. A close friend and lover of mine died a short while ago and has inspired this message.

To those who care:

As soon as you can, let the sadness, grief, anger fall away from you and then... let my spirit live thru you—you can keep me alive in your heart and in your life. How? by cherishing what I have given you during my life.

I accept my death. I am not afraid to die. I am but one small speck in the circle of energy. I cherish each day and feel as though I have done much and touched many people.

Look for my smile in the new buds of spring, my voice in the winds, my warmth in the sun. We are all one.

Some requests—

—my body to be cremated and the ashes scattered upon the sea
—flowers for my funeral to be gathered from the fields
—no other flowers need be sent, instead
—donations to cancer research

Any of my writings, belongings can be shared among those who desire them and used for their best purposes. As a prelude at the funeral — "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee."

It's a very special kind of love when you let someone live in your heart.

Peace be with you, Carol

There is now a sense of completion, having fulfilled all of these requests and more. Some tasks remain, like donating Rahima's academic materials to the university, but we are substantially complete.

I still look for Rahima. Sometimes it's scanning the dance floor for her wavy auburn hair and bright smile but mostly it is Ya Rahim, the spirit of divine compassion that she embodied and that I experience so often through kindness and beauty—in the buds of spring, in the winds, in the warmth of the sun—everywhere.

I wish you all peace.


As I mentioned, I intend to continue this blog until the end of the summer. In the meantime, please sign the guestbook and comment on any of the journal entries. I may post more in the interval.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Kite: A True Story

I once lost a kite to sea. A gust of wind yanked the spool right out of my hand. I was crestfallen as I chased the runaway spool into the surf until I could go no further and the kite fluttered down toward the water, well out of reach.

Then the waves grabbed the spool and to my amazement the kite lifted skyward again. It was flying on its own, further out to sea, soaring and darting from side to side, until another gust pulled the spool out of the water and the kite drifted down only to rise again.

I watched the kite sail away in this manner, repeatedly flying, fluttering down and rising up. Farther and farther to sea it went until I could see only a speck of light dancing on the dark horizon. Then it was gone.

How far the kite flew I do not know. In a sense, it just kept on flying.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Ocean

These words by Mary Oliver help me remember Rahima's lightness of being as I prepare to travel to Scituate, Massachusetts to meet members of her family and fulfill Rahima's request to have her ashes scattered in the ocean:


May I never not be frisky,
May I never not be risque.
May my ashes, when you have them, friend,
and give them to the ocean,
leap in the froth of the waves,
still loving movement,
still ready, beyond all else,
to dance for the world.