The Circle of Life
by Elene Bratton
14 years ago my family had made plans to visit Jamie’s cousin Ari who was about 1 at the time, (now 16) in New York. Jamie was really into the Lion King, which had come out on Broadway and we made plans to see it while in the city. Unfortunately that was not to be, but here 14 years later the play has made it to San Diego. When my friend Ronda asked me if I wanted to go with her, I had to take pause. Was I ready. When I said yes, but only if I could take my grands (grandchildren) , Destiny 4 and Isaiah 6, in this way I felt I could complete this journey with them. Ronda was very generous and courageous, when she listened to my history with this play. Months have passed since we made that plan, but unlike the past, the day did arrive, with not a lot of thought but openness to what it would be. I arrived with all the stress of parking, fighting off throngs of ushers that that want to direct you to your seat and settling in getting the kids.at
I was prepared to feel sad about the journey that was thwarted by life all those years ago, but what I didn’t remember was how much the story reflected my journey of love and loss. As the animals presented themselves in the Circle of Life, the tears started to flow as I realized I was fulfilling that circle in my own life through the connection to legacy through the moments I shared with my grands. As I saw Musafa instructing his son on the ways of the world I remember giving Jamie such instruction, it also triggered a memory of Raell (my oldest grand –born 3 weeks after Jamie’s passing- now 14) as a baby, and holding him up in the air to9 survey his kingdom (only the backyard, but it’s what we got).
When Musafa was tragically killed, of course I plunged into my own sense as loss and grief. How sudden you can go from feeling on top of the world, that life just keeps getting better and better, to questioning everything: purpose, meaning faith, even the value of living and how loss lowers your sense of self in an instant. But that running away simply doesn’t work. Grief will wait in the darkness and find you when you are most vulnerable. Your attempts to run will have to be stronger and stronger until the medicine itself can kill. What has worked for me is to remember that we Interare, meaning always connected. When Simba asks Rafaki (the sage monkey-narrating the story). Did you know my father? He relies “Correction I know you father”. This moved me so, causing me to reaffirm that what I know but also need to practice. As much as I know the Spirit of Jamie lives on in me, I also have to practice seeing him , his legacy of Love-Joy-Peace & Connection. That is really how I keep him alive in me. For a long time Simba , couldn’t feel the continuation because he couldn’t let go of his guilt to connect with the presence of his father an how his father was him and he was his father. We remain connected even if our bodies are apart.
Then it was beautiful to see the Lion King story reflected the approach I have taken in channeling my grief, through service. Once he felt that connection, he went back to his community to help. That is what we have done with Jamie’s Joy. That is what I do each time I open my heart wide open to love again, to spend time with my family, my future, my grands, my community, my life. By continuing to be in the Circle of Life I not only honor the life of my son, but the whole of life.