|Deception Pass bridge in the rain|
I've been thinking about the cycles of life, ever since I learned that last Friday begins the Chinese New Year, this one with the same animal that was in the sky when I was born: the Horse. I also learned, for the first time, that each animal is also associated with one of five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). I was born during a Water Horse year. I found this interesting article on Wikipedia that contains a chart comparing the sixty-year cycle of the Chinese lunar years for 1924–2043 to find out what occurred in my life during previous Horse years.
The first really interesting thing that stands out to me is that when I was almost sixty, in a Water Horse year, my son Chris died. That was an event that changed the trajectory of my life quite dramatically. Suddenly I was no longer a mother of any living children, and I remember the sense of loss that permeated my days during that time. Grief, like any other part of life, is strongest at first and gradually begins to release its grip as other aspects of life take over. It's been long enough now to look back at his life with love and appreciation for the years we did have together, rather than at a deep wound that hurts to touch. I notice that I can look at pictures of him and remember times we shared without pain, and I marvel that I didn't even realize it until one day when I was smiling at a picture of us together.
The last Wood Horse year was 1954, which was when I was a young girl entering puberty. I discovered boys around that time. The next twelve-year cycle was Fire Horse in 1966, which was a very memorable year in the United States: among other events, Medicare was begun and the first Star Trek episode was released (and I'm still a fan). Now I am a Medicare recipient. Not much happened to me that I remember during the Earth Horse year in 1978. Both of my parents were still alive, and I had discovered the joys of outdoor exercise. I lived in Boulder then and had started running and climbing mountains.
During the Metal Horse year in 1990, I discovered skydiving and my life changed dramatically. I ended up making more than 300 skydives during that year, and every single aspect of my days revolved around the sport. I met Smart Guy in 1992 and we married in freefall in 1994, so I guess you could say my life trajectory changed completely during a Horse year. And as I said before, it was 2002 and a Water Horse year when I had another major change when Chris died.
And now we are in Wood Horse year 2014. You will not believe what just happened as I was writing this post about life cycles: I received a call from Norma Jean that my sister PJ died during the night. Several flurries of phone calls later, and it's been decided that I will go ahead and travel to Florida tomorrow and she and I will then travel to Texas to be with our family. PJ had a massive stroke last night and was rushed to the hospital, where they were unable to revive her. She died at midnight. Her husband Stewart said she had just had the best week since her heart attack last fall, and she didn't suffer. She was scared of being on machines at the end of her life. I am reeling with the shock of it, although we really all knew it was coming eventually. You hope it will be far in the future, though.
|Patricia June Stewart Merrill 1950-2014|