My partner and I are supporting a friend in the process of dying.
I’ve been feeling myself drawn toward this sort of work for a decade, and now the time has arrived.
I’m amazed at how calm I feel and comfortable with the process. (Ten years ago, I was invited to attend the dying of another friend, and I had to decline.)
My partner and I spent a couple of hours each day the last few days and watched our friend decline to sunken cheeks, faint gestures, and occasional phrases turned to whispers of single words or phrases not understood.
We scheduled our volunteer time for late afternoon, and have spent our last few mornings cleaning out our shop which had become a nonfunctional store room. (Perhaps his dying made us want to put our things in order, bring new life into our lives, get energy unstuck, and keep things functioning at home.)
This morning shortly after we’d gotten back to work, Greg noticed something strange hanging on the wall of the house right next to where we were working and called me to come with the camera.
Almost the first thing that came to my mind was Alien, as in the thing that sprung from Sigourney Weaver’s chest.
– though first I’d thought it was one insect eating another. It took a few moments to realize, it was not death, but birth. One being was not being consumed by another; one was emerging from its own former shell.
Death and rebirth. We thought of our friend, and how frightening death is to so many people – as frightening as this monster-looking creature. But that was just a bad first impression. This monster would become absolutely beautiful.
Greg noticed what he called “umbilical cords,” white threads that connected the new dragonfly to its shell – even after she removed her tail, righted herself, and let her wings emerge. Now she looks like a faerie in pink and lime green lace and ruffles! (Please click and zoom to see amazing detail!)
Eighteen minutes later, her ruffles are smoothed out, and her cords are disconnected.
I came in close for this “smile”:
Here she’s looking mostly like the dragonfly we know:
And then she spreads her wings, an hour and a half after her birth:
I’ve always loved dragonflies, and once called on Dragonfly for a healing ceremony. They are said to be guardians of the portals to the dream world, allowing in healing, or allowing the soul to pass to the next world.
Since we’d talked with our friend about death as a passing into the next world, a rebirth, we couldn’t help but think of this dragonfly birth as a herald of our friend’s passing.
In a moment, the old shell was left behind…
and she began her life, anew, in the garden.
Can you see her?
This afternoon, our friend was far less responsive. Faint smiles, apparent sleep, no gestures.
When we told his wife about the dragonfly, she said it had always been an important totem for them.
Our world is so powerfully magical! (If we invite it in.) It answers, “Yes!” in case we forgot, that we have friends in spirit all around us. (Yes, there is powerful grief in our world also, but the Magic is here still, just waiting for us to recognize it.)
The portal is opened. Happy travels, Friend.