Saturday, March 19, 2011

Death and Love

" The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?" - Kahlil Gibran

My Aunt Jade is dying. She is in hospice and is not completely aware anymore. She is happy and comfortable though, and at peace with the time being near.
My mother's older sister is a sassy San Fransican activist, one of the people who barrages the government with letters, emails and phone calls to save the whales, the water quality, the turtles in mexico. She is one of the reasons we have the society we do. She is creative, compassionate, fiery and tenacious.
She has straight, pure white hair, cut into a perfect bob that falls to her chin. She wears bright ethnic clothing, celebrating Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Tibet and the Ecuador. She is a independent Chinese woman who speaks excellent Spanish, lives part time in Mexico, teaches high schoolers in San Francisco and enjoys a walk with her dog Radar in the park, chatting casually with her neighbors, more than anything.

I love her because she is vibrant, opinionated and active. She makes a difference in the world around her, and whether you agree with her, or see her verocity for change as passionate or angry, all agree that she knows she matters. She knows each one of us matters. She stood for each of us when we were too busy to email the government. And she emailed us again because she knows we matter and we can make a difference.
I love that about her. She empowers me to be active. She inspires me to care.

As we sat in the sunny dog park by her burgundy, forest green and gold Victorian home in San Francisco on a recent visit, a floral scarf wrapped around her head, wisps of white hair blowing in the breeze, I held her hand and summoned my then 7 year old over to us. I looked at my Aunt Jade and asked her, "If you could have one wish for our future generations, what would it be?"
She squinted at me through the sun, surprised, a little bit, inside her brown eyes, and said " Oh that's a big question...."
She looked down, for a moment, thoughtfully, then up, sure, and said to Ben and I, "To take care of the earth."
Ben looked at her solemnly and said. "I can do that."
I sighed, squeezed her hand and was complete with the relationship we have had. In my heart, my love for her was so full, it overflowed into the next generation.

The sorrow I feel for her near passing is not a misery of which I feel victim of. It is a deep understanding that I only feel this sorrow because I have had the honor to know her, to be influenced by her, to be related to her and to be inspired by her. All a blessing. All a gift.
I thank my Paw Paw (Chinese for Grandmother) for birthing and raising such a dynamic person. I thank her daughter Andra for caring for her mother generously, all the while creating a creative and vibrant life of her own passions. I thank my mother for having had a relationship with her sister that was joyful and open and allowed me to get to know my Aunt Jade. I celebrate her life and know that death is but a phase in life.

"Knowing that I am of the same nature as all other natural things, I know that there is really no seperate self, no seperate personality, no absolute death and no absolute life" - T'ien T'ung-Hsu...from my Zen calendar from my dear, dear sister.

That is a deep concept to grasp, especially in the midst of sorrow.I never understood how people could say that they want to have a party when they die, they want people to be happy. It felt so cold and fake. I get now, there is the opportunity, in her passing to celebrate having been a part of her life. We hurt from death because we love, and if we reside in the love we can be present to the miracles in life. It may continue to hurt, the sorrow is like the burning in the oven, and yet something beautiful can be created from it.
The question to ask ourselves, is from knowning this person, the eclectic, bold and outspoken Aunt Jade, and what she stands for, how will we now live our lives?

With Love to her beautiful and marvelous daughter Andra and compassionate son-in-law Brian,
Zen Honeycutt


  1. your words make my own thoughts tangible in a time of confusing sadness, I appreciate what you have written, and how it has made me smile at my own memories of time, and life, shared with Aunt Jade.
    Love to Jade, Love to all,


  2. I have known Jade for less than an year, but she feels like a sister, She is someone you can care about and not be afraid to show your feelings to. She brought out the best in me and of others. I will always be thankful for having known her and Radar. They have both found a place in my heart. I will truly miss Jade, but I know that you, Jade, will always be with us .