The passing of a friend

Time: there is so much of it, but never enough, especially when ikú (death) takes one’s final breath away. For me, today is a day like any other; I got up; I ate; I walked the dogs; and, I taught divination to my students, my friends. Yet for my friend, this day was unlike any other since his birth: he died. After class was over I had an email in my inbox telling me . . .

A friend died in his sleep.

A couple of years ago, we had a falling out of sorts. It involved three people, really: myself, her, and by extension, her husband. For quite some time we did not speak. Then about six months ago we broke the ice; and about two months ago, I was having dinner at their house. And today, he is dead.

My friends: life is too short to hold on to past grudges and errors. Let them go. Breathe. Apologize. Breathe. And keep breathing together until ikú takes your last  breath away.

I’m not sure where I got this from, but it was sent to me years ago and I saved it. It is a bit of Ifá divination poetry from the odu Oyekun’che. It seems appropriate to mark the death of a friend:

The teachings of Ifá were interpreted for the wise ones.

Who assembled and invited some Babalawo to interpret the teachings of Ifá on death.

The asked why is it that death kills people and there is no one who does not die?

The Babalawo said that it is good that Amuniwaye, (the one who brought us into the world, this is a Praise name for Olódùmarè) created death.

Water, which does not flow back and forth, becomes a pond of polluted water. A pond of water which causes disease.

Water takes people away freely and water brings them back freely.

Let them go home to receive a new body (awo titun a new skin, a new vessel for the Spirit); let the corrupt go home to receive new character so they may return to the world.

Then the Babalawo asked: “What is unpleasant about this?”

The wise ones prostrated in respect for Ifá, saying: aboru; aboye; abosise. (The offering has been made, may it be accepted; may it be blessed.

Then they went away and they no longer considered death as a matter of sorrow.

Forgive. Relax. And breathe. Life really can be that simple.

Ócháni Lele


2 thoughts on “The passing of a friend

  1. This is so beautiful. I spoke with another friend who lost her mother today and told her to remember that nothing ever disappears it only changes. I also used an analogy involving water and said that when you heat an ice cube, it eventually turns to steam and dissipates into the atmosphere, but that even though you can’t see it anymore, it hasn’t disappeared. Since our bodies are almost completely comprised of water, this seems even more appropriate. Herman Hesse also wrote in Siddhartha that the human race was like a river, that we flow to the sea, rise to the clouds, and rain down, only to flow to the sea again. This seems to be something to meditate upon today.

  2. There are times you surprise me with your insight, especially your use of water in this metaphor. And in Lucumi beliefs, what Herman Hesse states is also true in a broad way. When you and I hang out next, remind me to discuss our beliefs on life, death, the orishas, and Olodumare.

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