When we die, we are put into a box that is put into the ground, and, though we try to extend the period of time it takes through embalming, caskets, vaults and what have you, our substance is taken back into nature, into the system. The stuff of our dead body eventually will go into other living things.
This view, however, gives too much weight to our last moments. All of our lives we are taking in new matter and sloughing off old. We are like the dust-devils you see on a hot day. Dust comes in; dust goes out.
We are not the dust; we are something more. As with the dust devil, the dust goes in and the dust goes out, but the whirl is the thing that we are.
We take in more than the food we eat. We have people come into ourselves: friends, lovers, spouses, and, for those of us who are lucky, all three in the same person.
And more than dust goes out of us. We give birth to children; we make friends; we teach; we repair lives; we give love.
We enter into the circle of the world.
We are like a drop of water going into the pond. We blend with the water, but the ripples go out.
Some make a ripple on the ocean and some in a crawdad hole. It’s all the same just at a different scale.
And when we die, it leaves a hole in the center of the ripple. And the hole is a wound. And the wound is painful to those who’ve been in our circle. And the pain will remain until they’ve come to join us.
Ona Mae Winters, April 5 1925 through January 1,2011.