I tell it to you as it was told to me, there are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function, the second is when the body is returned to nature as we are all a part of the Earth. And the third and final death is when there is no one left to remember you. So each year we cheat the final death by remembering and honoring those who have crossed to the other side. Skeletons represent the eternalness of our souls so they are smiling as we remember them. The concept of death is just another stage of life. In death just as at the time of a birth people gather to witness and comfort those who are moving on or arriving. Its a time for celebration.
I spent the day yesterday having great fun doing presentations about the tradition of building altars to honor loved ones for about 210 high school students. It was refreshing to see the authentic discussion, questions, and willingness to accept something new. I created an altar honoring some of my family, and Latino musicians and Civil Rights leaders. I shared with them that history is created with people and some of the best stories are found outside of the books. I asked them to add the names and tell the stories of people and pets important in their lives. We discussed traditional and contemporary ways to build a place of remembrance. We talked about the importance of recognizing that we each have a story in this journey and it is our responsibility to pass on the stories we have experienced. There is value in each life that crosses our path and to remember them and the lessons learned can be life changing. Celebrate a loved one, someone special who added to your life story today.