“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Well, my sweet Aunt Lane finally allowed the angels and saints to carry her away on Friday. She went into hospice on May 21st, ostensibly to die within a few days, but she got rejuvenated by the stories her children told as they sat at her bedside, and decided she wanted to hear more. So, she stuck around for five and half months banking up stories, correcting her offspring when she needed to, making sure they got the details straight. That's one of the best things that happens when a loved one is dying—everybody uses that idle, waiting time to tell stories, and all of them are different. Stories are our life-blood, they keep us glued together. We need to share them to remember how we got to be who we are, even when they are painful, but especially when they make us laugh.
I think the laughter of children and grandchildren when recounting the old family stories is music to a dying person's ears. It gives them confidence that they did not participate in the creation of some truly angry and messed up people, that those whom they love are going to stick together and support one another when they're gone. It gives them the freedom to let go and let God, so to speak. It also helps the family left behind realize how much history they share, and how important they are to one another.
But you don't have to be dying to appreciate a good story, or to have a deep need to tell your own. Brothers and sisters, cousins and friends, colleagues and cohorts bond around their shared stories. When we tell a story, we reveal ourselves in ways we don't under other circumstances. We move information into an open space, so that others around us can see it. To be sure, too much information is shared at times, but revealing our memory stories helps us to realize that we do, indeed, have a beating heart, and so do others. One never knows what another person is carrying around in the way of history and experience until they tell it in a story. That changes our perception of them.
Don't wait till someone is dying to get their stories, or to share your own. Let down your ego defenses, and allow someone you trust to know exactly who you are, and how you got to be you. Heart connections water our stories into full bloom. Goodbye to Aunt Lane—I miss her already, but we'll keep telling tales about her and laughing.
In the Spirit,