Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because the whole point of this holiday is invoking a tender emotion—gratitude—that has been known in both spiritual traditions and science to open the heart, relax the nervous system, improve health, and deepen intimacy with our loved ones and the Divine. As Thanksgiving approaches, we pause, gather with our loved ones, and focus on giving thanks. It’s easy to be grateful for the yummy things in life—the child when she’s sleeping, a beloved’s sweet kiss, the sunset, the moonrise, and the feeling of joy in our hearts when our Soul Tribe is all around us, our hearts open, our voices raised in song, our feet swaying with dance. But the real practice comes when we can feel grateful even for life’s initiations, those challenging experiences that have the opportunity to either blow our hearts open or slam them shut.
Today is my beloved mother's funeral. In honor of this final memorial, may I share with you the eulogy I wrote for her. When my father was dying in 2006 from a brain tumor, I wrote his eulogy before he died and read it to him. It touched him deeply to hear how he touched me. I did the same thing for my mother, and I invite you to honor her memory here with the family, if you feel called to do so.
My mother made her final transition last night. After I told her, my friend Shiloh said, "When the mother passes, the fabric of the universe is shifted and moves into a new shape." Today begins the first day of that new shape for those of us who can hardly begin to imagine the world without Trish Rankin in it. We are all weary but filled with broken-hearted love and gratitude. Last night, my sister, my mother's two sisters and I held my beloved mother precariously in our adoring arms through the harrowing end. My daughter was on the phone with us when she breathed her last agonizing breath.
I am in Ohio right now, midwifing my beloved mother through the rebirth we call death. I already lost my precious father almost 12 years ago, two weeks after my daughter Siena was born. His was a beautiful, sacred death. The moment he breathed his last breath, my mother, who was married to him for 40 years, threw her body on top of him and cried, “David, I love the way you died.” Now, I am preparing to let go of the woman I never thought I could live without.