Death and Life

Sometimes I am awake all night. The moments I do drift off to sleep, I dream intensely about a life of ease. Everything is powerful, challenging, and brings me to my knees in life right now. Interactions, emotions, dreamtime, arguments with husband, and yet amidst the heightened state, I feel flat.

When all is quiet, the dark of night brings memories of Koa. I picture him close to me giving me a kiss or laughing next to me. It’s the essence of the memories that are the most painful: the moments where nothing truly special was going on, yet my whole being was able to stop and capture the simple sweetness of him. The most painful memories are those Mama moments that nobody notices but me. Like when I took in his beauty, his smell, and his energetic grace.

Yes, I cry for him, dearly and completely. I miss him beyond my ability to even put it into words.

This longing and missing comes from a place of being beyond tears. It is a silent agony. It reminds me of the stillness of an ice storm. It creeps in and freezes everything. To move or cry during these moments could be fatal. I have to stop and remember to breathe until once again, this very wise heart knows to shift, numb, and free me so a different moment can happen, a moment where I feel alive again.

These tears come from deep down in my belly. It has to do with the shedding of innocence. It’s about the lie and deceit of life. It’s about the naivety I lived with that only other people’s children die, not mine. I was raised with no awareness of death or its promise that it will come. All I was asked to learn in school and at home was about formalities, none of which included any real life skills beyond, Share with your sister;  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; Study and do your homework because math and science will save you when you grow up; and You need a job.

I cry tears of remorse because life is hard and death is real. Pain and separation, shadow and disharmony are more a part of daily life than peace. There is starvation, homelessness and competition. There is rape, abuse, and violence. Why do we want so desperately to protect our children from knowing the harsh realities of life? It is a grave injustice to not be prepared when they come.

I cry are because I have lived a life where abandonment, sexual abuse, rape, violence, homelessness, hunger, darkness, disharmony, and now death have permeated my existence. Math and science did not save me. “Do unto others,” was a one-sided principle. And sharing with my sister was impossible from the bed of a foster home.

I cry for the lies and for having to wake up to the realities of life. I am painfully aware that life is different than the society we live in is willing to face. I pay thousands of dollars for counseling, school loans, mortgages, and raising a child to find the life skills I need to even want to be here.

I cry because somewhere there were decisions made in this organizing of American culture that states eight hours of learning things like calculus and history of the Civil War is more important than teaching me about emotions and how to find my own strength.

Becoming healthy in this culture has been reduced to being done on our spare time, in the confines of four walls while you sit on a couch for $125.00 an hour, or in groups of 40 at workshops where you sit in a crowd and hope to have the confidence to speak up and ask questions that pertain to the pain you carry. You try to retain the information and pray to integrate it into this story you are living.

I am sounding a bit critical I know. Anger is alive and real for me in this area. I feel justified because I have too much experience in not having the tools I need to survive life’s lessons. I am a self-made survivor. My God-given gifts have saved me. I am able to maneuver this terrain of life by rebelling and standing up asking that my needs be met. I have the support of the native peoples of this land and of a small community that lives with deep consciousness. It sheer grace and blessings within my tragedies that allow me to find a modicum of comfort to hold me through them.

If I look at it all from the perspective of adding up how many times I had to rebel against the systems or count how many beautiful individuals gave me time, energy, and love to help me get through, then yes, math is useful.

The truth is, the only way I did survive was to reject my education. I did not try to get four degrees in something smart just to be able to prove myself. I quit work over and over to dedicate myself to my personal healing, and actually, to keep one small toe in the mundane world while the rest of me moved in spiritual directions.

Instead of looking to books, I began to write. I have never read a book cover-to-cover. I read a page a long time ago time ago in The Healing Wisdom of Africa by Malidoma Some that the tribe he comes from believes that once you educate a child, his/her magic begins to wane.

My intuition has always been my guiding force. My instincts, when not shut down from abuse or shock, have guided me without fail. I am not a psychic or guide of other worlds. I am attuned to the Earth realm and consider myself more of an Earth guide. This place and its people are my study. I am interested in what’s happening here, where we go when we leave, and how it relates to those who are left behind.

I have begun to understand that I may never become anything bigger than myself. If I can simply learn to be more myself, then I will have accomplished what I came to do.

The depth of reality in my world is eye-opening. It is a fragile existence mixed with an enduring resilience. A moment of compromise in one direction can take your life and turn it into death. One can endure years of abuse, neglect, and pain, and still find the tenacity to live.

I have a deep respect for what humans can tolerate emotionally. There is an intense awareness that, when it’s our time to die, we take one step off of the curb at the wrong time, or a fever gets a little too high, or someone else’s pain takes our life away in their fit of anger. It can happen so fast and so slow. Death comes for us when it does.

Death of the body is not pretty. For some who drift off and die in their sleep, it comes like that ice storm, quiet and imminent. For others, there is bloodshed and violence that jolts the life out.

Still, for those of us left here learning to live with the death of our loved ones, we are swept away inside a chasm of pain and uncertainty about our own existence.

victoria markland the imperfect start

About the Author | Victoria Markham

Victoria Markham is a tireless truthteller standing with other women side by side in the revolution to change the way we stay small! Email her at

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