Death and taxes and love love love [+ a 50-for-50 video]

This post is #32 in a series of 50 dedicated to the art and life of writing, in support of the 50 for 50 Project to benefit WriteGirl. If you like it, or if you think it could have been improved by a better writing education for its author, please give generously. And pass it on.

I spent the morning today at the funeral service for a friend’s father. I’ll be spending the rest of the afternoon and evening preparing my stuff to take to my tax guy tomorrow morning.

Death and taxes. Yes, really.

While I’d been dreading them both, a weird kind of calm settled over me as I drove out to the West Valley. Maybe it was the spirit of my friend’s father, showering love and happiness from the great beyond; by the sound of it, he was that kind of a guy, always full of love and a zest for life. Or maybe it was just so much sunlight everywhere, spilling onto everything. It’s hard for me to keep feeling badly when the sun is shining, which is part of the reason I’m unlikely to move to the glorious PacNW anytime soon.

Anyway, the service ended up being terrifically uplifting: wonderful stories of a life beautifully lived, angelic singing from his eldest son. Which is good, because it also ended up being terrifically long, I’d forgotten that’s how the Catholics do their celebrations. Lots of pomp, and lots of long.

But my favorite point of the show, and come on, it’s a show, folks, was the sermon. Usually my least favorite part, owing to the bombastery of 90% of the priests you tend to run into, this one contained useful and uplifting words about many things, most strikingly, forgiveness. You hear a lot about forgiveness, blah blah blah, but you don’t usually hear this: that Jesus talked about forgiving (an order of magnitude of forgiving), but he never said anything about forgetting. We are supposed to work on forgiving, and then leave the other party room for acknowledging and making amends. An incredibly loving and just and harmonious solution to the conundrum of life slamming you in the face repeatedly. My job is not to say “Oh, fine, it’s all good” but to process and forgive. Process and forgive. (And, of course, if I’m on the other side of things, to acknowledge and make amends.)

It’s a relevant subject right now because this 50-for-50 Project, for as wonderful as it is, is rousing all kinds of strange, old things inside me. Hurts from long ago blow up unexpectedly like ancient land mines, triggered by actions real and intents projected. Another reminder that there is no burying things, no hiding your garbage. You sit with it, you sit in it, you deal with it, and then maybe you get to move on.

For me, writing helps. It gets things out of my head and heart, even the long-buried, festering stuff. Not always pleasant, but life is not about pleasant, it’s about living. Loving. Moving. Growing.

I’ll let you know when I figure out what the taxes are for.



  1. Oh Colleen, this is why I think you’re so brave!

    You’ve already made the world so much richer, for sharing more writing with us.

    I’ll miss that, but I’m looking forward to you getting some rest.

  2. Hmm I just had an epiphany of sorts concerning my never ending Mom baggage. This is a very good thing.
    Your honesty and persistence are something I strive for!
    Now onto the streets for some lapel grabbing!

  3. A timely post as I’m working on some forgiveness issues myself… process and forgive, process and forgive!

    I am a big fan of Pema Chodron, who talks about sitting with pain, sitting with negative emotion, rather than pushing it away. That is my lifelong work, I’ve decided, since I have a natural propensity to push push push away.

    Again, thanks.

    1. I need to give Pema Chodron another try now that I’m older and more patient. Okay—older.

      And I don’t know too many folks who have a natural tendency to embrace. Although maybe that’s just the pack I run with. :-)

    2. Oh, Gwyn. You seem like you’re pretty out there and truth-seeking/telling to me.

      But I am now formulating an idea about a Lapel-Grabbing Brigade. The test to see whether you get in, of course, would have to be “say this three times fast!”

      (Aaaand maybe today is going to require a second cup of coffee.)

  4. I’ll happily join the Lapel-Grabbing Brigade. Just for the record.

    Forgiveness is dirty, nasty, hard work. I hate doing it because it means I’m giving up something of myself. Don’t want to always be the bigger man, yanno? But the weight that falls off when I can manage to accomplish it is so worth it. Not forgetting – fool me once, and all that – but to really be done with that bullshit. That’s amazing stuff.

  5. Wow! To be mentioned in a Communicatrix blog post! What an honor! And you were right, my dad was full of life and my heart is full of gratitude for friends like you.

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