A picture of my mom (left) and her sister. My aunt died about 2 years ago. Mom never got over that. I'm happy at the thought that they are likely hanging out again, smiling down on their loved ones.
Well, there's a lot on my mind lately. Some of which, I talk about, some of which I don't. With my mom's death, I am really trying to handle everything in a good way, though I already know I'm not in some ways. I should be talking about everything with the people I love; instead, I mostly would rather keep it inside, and pretend that everything is fine. At the same time, I want to deal with it openly; I just wonder if that will come as time goes on.
When I wrote my talk for Mom's funeral, I had so much on my mind; so much I wanted to say. I struggled though with what would be appropriate; I wondered what words would honor my mom the best. I tried not to make it about me; it was her day. And I hope, as we talked about our love for her, that she was there, somewhere, listening with a peaceful smile on her face. There was a lot that, ultimately, I decided not to include in my talk. And while I think I made the right choice to omit that which I did, I still think about those things, so I want to write them down, so I can have them for later. And maybe I want to share some of it; hoping someone's ears might relate.
Though we're not sure, we think it's possible that Mom said goodbye to the world on the night of the 11th, rather than the morning of the 12th. This doesn't really matter, does it? But what I'm about to share gives some perspective on why it matters to me. When I came home on the night of the 11th, as I walked toward the apartment, I heard a raven calling. I looked up, and there on the light post near my van, was a raven. It was calling, though I obviously don't know what it was trying to communicate. The reason this is odd is that I hadn't remembered seeing ravens around downtown, and I LOVE ravens, for various reasons, so it definitely caught my attention this night. After thinking, "Hmm...that's different," I continued on my way upstairs, forgetting about the black raven on the light.
The next morning, the 12th, as I headed out the door to my van for work, that same raven was still there, still calling. And I thought it bizarre, but also enjoyed seeing him. Well, after a couple of hours at work, I got the news of my mom's passing and left the job site to come home. The rest of it, most of you already know.
I know you're asking yourself, "Is he going to somehow tie all of this together so it makes any sense?" Yes, I am. If you know me, you know I love wild things, the animals, the mountains. You know I especially love Alaska and wolves. Well, in my studies of wolves for over a decade now, I've become fond of ravens. You see, ravens and wolves are part of what is termed a "symbiotic relationship," meaning they count on each other for survival, to put it simply. Ravens are scavengers and they follow the wolves, knowing they'll eventually get to pick the leftovers off of old elk, moose or bison carcasses. Biologists now believe the wolves are following the ravens as well. Ravens have been observed calling to the wolves and telling them where to find prey. So they work together. To some people, this is no big deal. To me, it's all the more fascinating.
Anyway, while living in Alaska, I learned about Northwestern Native folklore and symbolism. I loved the tribal paintings of ravens and I would often pick up books and browse the native lore about ravens. So here is where I'll tie it together. In much of that native legend and lore, Raven has several roles. One of the most important is that he is a creator. But one of the darker legends is that he is a messenger of death. Was it coincidence that the raven was in our parking lot? I don't know; maybe. But maybe not. That he was there, calling while I was walking by, and the only one around, on the night of the 11th and the morning of the 12th is strange at the very least. Personally, the symbolism isn't lost on me.
I decided not to include that in my talk. I figured the meaning would be lost on about everyone. I think Mom might have gotten it, if I had explained it to her. She wasn't superstitious; she was "a little sticious." But it really probably was best to keep the raven bit out of the funeral and just throw it somewhere into the great abyss of my blog. So there you go. Think I'm crazy? That's OK. I probably am.