An image of an alpine forget-me-not came to mind—a tiny flower that I see only when I hike in high elevations, usually in the Beartooth range of Montana. I remembered a strenuous hike to the Red Lodge Creek Plateau with my father, forty years ago now. Making it to that alpine plateau was his test of recovery from a serious illness, and when I left for college soon after that, he gave me a photograph of a clump of forget-me-nots that he had taken that day. He’s been gone fifteen years now, and the grief has faded to good memories that make me smile.
Our poses moved from warm-up to more intense poses, and I found that even with the modifications I need for my curvy, stocky body that I was having more trouble today. I chalked it up to several months away from yoga and congratulated myself on showing up on the mat at a new studio with a new teacher. I reminded myself to be patient and true to my own needs, and I relaxed even further into the pose. Veronica periodically reminded us to visualize our flowers, and I kept seeing that sweet blue forget-me-not.
And then it hit me that I had intended to spend this moment of this day sending my thoughts to those gathered in Manhattan for a memorial service for Tom Zajac, an incredibly talented early music performer and teacher who recently left us too way too soon. Although Tom was from Boston, his service was happening at that moment at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan. I think they needed the biggest and most beautiful cathedral available to hold all the people he had touched in his lifetime. I knew of it because Madeleine L’Engle and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine adopted each other, and she did much of her writing in the library there. Both love of music and the power of love are themes that run through all of her books. I can imagine her fictional Canon Tallis blessing the real Tom, who taught us to blend the two.
I spent the rest of that yoga session in tears, because the wonderful thing about yoga is its tendency to release emotions as well as physical tensions. I told Veronica briefly that it was a grief issue, and she encouraged me to stay, doing whatever felt right, and to particularly enjoy the restorative portion at the end. She dropped by my mat occasionally with lavender oil, a forehead massage, and a smile, and she gently incorporated comforting thoughts about grief into her dharma talk because of course no one is alone in suffering loss. I’m pretty sure I’ve found the right yoga studio to join.
But it’s really weird that the forget-me-not came to me before any of that entered my mind.