Day of the Dead

Time Flies, 10 x 12", Acrylic on Canvas by A. Canada Hopkins
Little to do with Halloween, this day is really a celebration--celebrating a life lived. There are lively festivals, colorful parades, and fun parties. Family and friends gather at the grave with offerings in remembrance and a belief that the soul of the loved-one can be communicated with.

The Day of the Dead originates in Mexico. It has been a ritual for thousands of years to celebrate an ancestors death, to remember them, or honor their reincarnated soul. The imagery, customs, and beliefs of the holiday are a blend of diverse cultures giving unique meaning to the celebrations.

Of course, I'm fascinated with all the imagery and it's symbolism. I've never gone to Mexico or a Mexican-American community to celebrate this occasion. But I imagine it would be wonderfully healing to build an altar of tangible remains, a time to speak and remember the loved one with happiness and celebration.

Dulce Catrina, Photograph by Greg Hero
I came across this poem, by Henry Scott Holland, shortly after my dad passed away in 2001. I think it exemplifies how he'd like me to remember him.

Death is Nothing at All

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well.

By Henry Scott Holland