Unexpected Love Letter


I live with a stuffed raven mounted on my wall. I love him. Always have.

Ravens as an animal totem in many cultures signify mystery, introspection and creativity; wisdom we can cull from the shadows.

He keeps his mercurial, black eyes on me which is at once soothing and disconcerting.

I gave him as a gift 35 years ago to a beloved friend.

Last year I called him to ask if I could live with the raven for awhile as I knew he was in storage at the time.

I did this because I wanted to ‘keep death on my shoulder’ as Carlos Castenada had been urged to do by his teacher, Don Juan.

My understanding is that Don Juan felt that living a full and conscious life demanded looking at death intimately before that threshold is reached; to use death as a reminder to really live whatever that means for each of us.

And so- I have been letting Death guide my life for awhile now; not planning on transitioning all that soon but intent on living.

I have spoken before about the process of filling out THE FIVE WISHES which is a living will template legal in many states.

The process of actually completing this has taken me quite awhile not because it is difficult (can be done in 15 minutes ) but because I needed the time.

This week I sent off both the completed form as well as directives for my memorial service (in sealed envelope not to be opened until I pass) to my 2 chosen people who I have charged with making any medical decisions for me if I can not. I put another copy in my files.

Our culture is so wacko about ‘death talk’ that I fully expected this process to be tedious at best.

BUT NO!!!!!!!

IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!!!!! How weird is that?

It was fun to say what I wanted and freeing to know what that was.

It was fun to decide the tone of my memorial; choose specific people for different tasks, pick music, place, disposal of remains.

My ‘memorial letter’ is really a love letter to my family as well as to myself; Making my desires available to them alleviates any question marks and, I hope, allows the process of sending me off to be a poignant one rather than an experience of undue stress.

It is a love letter to me because I got to set the energy of a very important part of life- that of death. I steered away from anything rigid or morose and invited people’s hearts forward in celebration of a life well lived.

I love the process of facing death.. not facing it down but having a conversation.

It is a fine, fine teacher.


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