December is a bittersweet month.  The long, dark shadows, the low, clear light, the decaying leaves, fill me with such poignancy that I want to cry.  With the protracted darkness, I am reminded of those who have died and gone before me… gone to an Eternal Home…an Eternal Home of Light.  A place where there is no more cold, no more hunger, and no more pain.  


December reminds me of my father, who died on December 9, 1974... And now, today, of my dear, dear friend and confidante, Maya Del Mar who died a couple of weeks ago on December 1st.  Their lives were over all too soon and death is almost palpable for me in this season of shadows… This bittersweet season of December.


And what is it I grieve?  The loss of their company – the strength of their voice on the phone, their gay laughter, their wise council. Their touch on my hand.  The look in their eyes.  They say the eyes are everything – that the eyes are the Windows of the Soul.  And as the eyes close in death, the Soul can be seen no more.  And yet it is the Soul that is Eternal and lives on forever.  It is only the shell of this flesh that dies.


One way the Soul lives on is in our memories, the memories of our loved ones… for so long as we continue to live they can never die. My father taught me that.  Some time before my father died, he said to me, “Christine, my mother told me that so long as I lived, she would never die.  And so long as you live, I shall never die.”  Thus, the memories are carried forward, aren’t they?  You cannot know me without knowing my father and those whom I have loved.  Likewise, I cannot know you, without eventually coming to know those whom you have loved.  And so it goes.  In a very real sense, we are a walking compendium of Soul-Stuff, of those whom we’ve loved, cherished and treasured; those whom we’ve held close to our hearts.

Maya Del Mar’s funeral was today.  But, thankfully, they didn’t call it a “funeral.” They called it a Homecoming, as she got to go Home today.  I affectionately call her Mamma Maya not only because she looked like my mother - only with white hair instead of blonde – but because she behaved like my mother.  Our relationship began in her little shoe-box home in Sausalito, where she taught me astrology.  At first, Maya was, “Maya Del Mar,” my astrologer. In later years she was “Mama Maya” because she mothered me as a mother does with open arms and open heart.  She was an astrologer and author whose eyes were always turned toward Heaven and Spirit.  At 78 years old, Maya died suddenly - without warning.  She died at her desk, doing what she loved to do, while writing her astrology column.  Would we could all pass in such a way – doing what we love to do. 


Although Mama Maya’s physical presence has passed from this world, she lives on in me, just like my father said.  Her Soul is here, in this very moment, as I share my experience of her with you.  I have but to close my eyes to see her.  How interesting that juxtaposition of thought, we have to close our eyes in order to “see.”  To see your loved ones, you close your eyes … and they are there. 


You have heard the wonderful phrase, “in the Mind’s Eye?”  The Mind’s Eye is at the core of our being where we can see everything at its best.  I don’t see my father, a-tangle in plastic tubes, coughing up blood as he lay dying in December - a December very much like this one.  In my Mind’s Eye, I see him on his horse, with his checkered cowboy shirt and white hair, loping through the mountains he loved or in his Brooks Brothers pin-stripe suit, tall, strong, and vital as he always was.  Although I didn’t see Maya in her final illness, I close my eyes and I can see her now, with her white hair, donned in purple robes with her moonstone ring, waiting with a kiss for me at her door. 


What or who has gone is never truly lost so long as you can close your eyes.  Any time, even now, your beloved is with you, in your Mind’s Eye.


Good-byes are always sad, aren’t they?  I have never been very good at them.  But I learned there can be no endings, goodbyes, or sadness without beginnings, reunions, and happiness to follow.  Every ending marks a new beginning.  When I die, as eventually I must, a new beginning awaits me. A triumphant homecoming. A celestial celebration commemorating that beginning.  I shall be reunited and again embraced by all those whom I have loved. 


Tomorrow night marks the beginning of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year.  After that, the days will begin to lengthen and with the increased light, new hope arises.  This season will come again next year but it will never be the same as today.  Life is never the same. 


A New Moon was born today at 9:01 this morning.  What’s called “The Dark Side of the “Moon.”  And the moon, like us, shall wax brightly in the coming days – a shining orb in the heavens, even as we approach the zenith of midlife. Then moon will wane into darkness once more… even as our lives shall shift into the nadir and darkness of death.


We have but today, this day. We have but one moment, this moment… and this... and this... as they slip by like pearls on a string.  And what will you do with your pearls of time?  What will you do with your pearls of great price? 


Perhaps you will be like my Mama Maya, mentoring and mothering those around you.  Perhaps you will be like my father, whose name is registered in the book of Great Nevadans for his outstanding contributions to his community.  Or perhaps you will perform the smaller services, the little things like putting coins in the beggar’s cup; practicing patience with those who’ve been unkind; turning the other cheek in forgiveness … just for today.  Just for this moment. 


Be mindful of these pivotal moments. The new moon.  The Winter Solstice.  The New Year, which is just around the corner.  Even as I am mindful each December of my father’s death and now Maya’s. They are gone but not gone - as their memory lives on in this bittersweet moment of December.