As I drove into work today I decided to listen to AM 680 because I believed I was behind in the news. Usually I listen to AM 1250 on my way in, where I catch at least one of my two favourite preachers during that drive. But today I felt a nudge from my higher power to listen to the news. It was announced that Queen Elizabeth was sick in bed, with “the king in waiting” by her side, and Prince William on his way. Ominous news. I kept my eye on it, and by the end of my lunch break I read that she had passed away.
Understanding that she was 96 and well past the average age for life on this plane, I still felt surprised. As I resisted crying for the first hour, I told myself to pull it together. Having never known this person, I found it challenging to justify this tender moment while I was at work. I pondered why this affected me so profoundly, and what I concluded was what many of my posts have been about as of late – it’s all about connection.
I realized that Queen Elizabeth’s reign was a part of common history that connects so many of us together, and for Canadians and others living in Canada, it really connects all of us. For me it is a point of reference that ties generations together, and so a part of her passing feels very similar to when my father passed last year; there is a sense of personal history that has been handed over to the hands of time, for it to do what it will.
When a patient came in and we had a moment just the two of us in reception, she asked me if I heard about the queen. We exchanged sentiments of shock and sadness, and I saw that she too was trying to make sense of her feelings for a stranger. My belief was further validated – this is a moment of not just national, but of global mourning. We mourn the end of an era. We finally close this book that so many of us thought we would never finish turning the pages of. One of the only books that for many of us each generation held and read from.
And while I at times resist progress, I understand that we must continue to grow and continue to heal. I’m not sure how the “imperial family”/Commonwealth will look with Charles as the new king; I suspect it will break up further, and perhaps that is as it should be. We have come very far collectively, and this world is nothing like the one the queen inherited. Perhaps that is why I am so sad, because change is scary, and I don’t trust my memories to prioritize properly.
When people I care about pass away, there is a fear that I will forget them or what they valued. So far though, that fear has proven to be an unnecessary burden to carry around. As I approach midlife and have experienced grief several times now, I’ve never forgotten anyone or what they embodied while they were here in their bodies. So as I brace myself for change, for the usual wars and inflation and pandemics, for freedom and truth and progress, I remind myself that my higher power goes before me always – that same power that I believe collected the queen’s soul this afternoon, and my dad’s soul last year, and I prepare for a new day in this brave new world.