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Grief & Praise

Alan’s memorial was yesterday and it was full of a great deal of grief but exponentially more praise. About 300 of us gathered in the clouds of Zoom to honor a man that was our father, husband, dear friend, confidant, accompanist, photographer, partner, teacher, fellow seeker, student, music lover and instructor on how to love in life.

It was an amazing tribute to a man that is missed dearly and will long be remembered for his wryness, his timing, his passions, his intellect and for helping so many of us on the path.

Glen Phillips wrote a song some time ago that perfectly summed up yesterday for me. Glen, a good friend to Alan, gave me words in his music to process my emotions.

"Though all that you love will be taken some day

By the angel of death or the servants of change

In a floodwater tide without rancor or rage

Sing loud while you're able in grief and in praise"

While I am pretty sure Glen was writing about a metaphorical death in this song, it helped me yesterday as I walked the beach to process my grief over Alan’s passing and also to lift him up in my heart, to praise all that I was given in his friendship.

I cried. I laughed. I smiled. My heart cracked open repeatedly, all day. I saw Alan through new eyes, through the loving hearts of those who knew him longest and best. I was amazed at the words that were used to describe this man: driven, passionate, connector. Everyone who spoke talked of his interests: guitars, Buddhism and photography. They talked of his love for impermanence. They talked of his love for his family and his friends. They talked of how much Alan was this great unifying force, causing all sorts of us to mix with each other, all out of a connection and love for Alan.

Someone said, “Alan took the shards of fracture and melded it into something new.” Yes, he did. Repeatedly, over and over and over again in his life. This was his gift. To make a mess of things as we humans always do but then to stay and do the work to heal what he broke. And his gift was to tell you all about it with humor and love.

He was the strongest most delicate person I have known. Such a contrast in who he was, lots of different and seeming incongruencies. But they lived perfectly in the soul that was Alan.

So I spent the day in grief and in praise as there can be no other way. To grieve is to praise and to praise is to grieve. One cannot appreciate fully what one has until one has lost it and one cannot grieve a loss fully without the praise of all it meant to them.

I walked the beach and wrote his name in the sand as this is my way to let go. I stood there and waited for the tide to take his name from the sand and allow it to be carried off to wherever the tide goes. I smiled and looked upwards to thank Alan for his friendship and love. I decided that I was grateful in equal measure for the grief that I felt as well as the praise that I gave.

Life is such a delicate balance of both: loving and living and grieving and dying. I thank my friend for helping me understand them both more deeply and with a more open heart.

While we may be parted in this life, we will forever walk the path together, it cannot be any other way. Namaste, my dear friend. Namaste.

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