We're coming up upon the one year anniversary of the death of my best friend, Emmanuel.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 7.49.35 PMIf we go back in time two years... I see Emmanuel... bright, vibrant, shining with vitality. My bestie. The person I went to get creative, to play in the sun, to cook dinner and snuggle up.

And then when we look back just one year... I see Emmanuel, still bright and shining... and yet in such a different place. His physical body devoured by cancer as his soul poured through.

Grief is a funny thing. It comes in waves. It subsides at times, only to arise again when we least expect it.

Through the last year of Manny's life I was truly schooled in a whole new level of presence, inner listening and what it means to really show up for our loved ones.

I had no idea how different my life would be after his passing.

It's not that it looks different on the outside. Life is still full. Life is still beautiful. I experience the beauty, the joy, the day-to-day challenges - the full spectrum of aliveness.

It's not like I miss Manny in the way I imagined I would.  Of course I miss our times together, yet I feel his beautiful presence so fully and completely with me.

You see, my healing process hasn't been what I expected. Almost a year since my dear friend left the earth plane, and what I'm grieving is that nothing within me will ever be as it was before his death.

I can never go back to the illusion of permanence. I can never go back to the place where I don't know the bodily sensation of aching so fully with loss. I can never go back to the place where I was unfamiliar with the reality of intense physical & emotional suffering that I witnessed in my friend's dying process.

Life is seasoning me.

I'm wiser. More seasoned. More able to embrace life. More compassionate. More aware.

Life has seasoned me.

In that seasoning, I am grieving the loss of my innocence.

Now, this may seem naive... and in some ways it is. It's not like I haven't been through my fair share of life experiences. I've traveled all over this globe - from the impoverished villages to upscale cities. I've achieved external success and accolades. I've loved. Deeply and fully.  I've been hurt. I've ended relationships. I've been broken up with. I've built my own business doing what I love. I've delved into the depths of my inner world to know myself more intimately. I've held my friend's hands as they've gone through divorce and other life difficulties. I've watched my parents grieve the loss of their fathers. I have lived.

None of these things have prepared me for the experience of holding my young friend's hand and walking him to death's door. None of these things could prepare me for the beauty and challenge of his transition.

I don't feel the same any more. I am accepting that I never will be the same again.

Life is seasoning me.

I grieve for my lost innocence. For the carefree days of not knowing this reality of life.

And I celebrate the gifts. I cherish the scars on my heart that bring with them greater compassion, love, understanding and connection to my humanity.

Life has seasoned me.

I cry. I witness. I surrender to Life's embrace.

I bow in deep honor to Emmanuel, my teacher, my gift, my beautiful friend.  And I bow in honor to you - my fellow human on the journey of life - for the unique life experiences that only you have lived... aho.