I recently returned from an almost month long road trip adventure from Colorado to California and back again. I love road trips for many reasons, most especially for how free and awake I feel – to the moment and to my surroundings. I also love how my thinking slows down, and how my thoughts detach from worry and become more expansive and creative.

Part of the impetus to go on this journey was to reconnect with this sense of freedom, particularly at this moment in time. I realized upon returning home, how much I equally value connection, and the preciousness of the loving relationships in my life.

Shortly after I returning, I received a call from my younger sister’s husband, telling me that Kathy had died in her sleep, just as her granddaughter was being born.

My sister Kathy was one of the most unconditionally loving and forgiving people I have ever met and I was deeply blessed to have her in my life. Acknowledging these qualities in her is not something I say lightly, as unconditional love and acceptance is a deep human longing, perhaps our deepest, and in this way she was an amazing human being.

Although on the surface our lives were very different, this never mattered. We were deeply connected through our hearts and the shared challenges of our life experience. We understood and loved each other from who we were beneath the surface, in the heart essence of our beings. And from this place I know we will always be connected.

The nature of grief is that it comes in waves, and with unexpected death, there is also shock and confusion. But I also know that death, and any great loss, is an opportunity to see more clearly into what is real and true, to look more deeply at ourselves and our lives.

Meanwhile, the challenges of the Pandemic continue, along with all of our mixed emotions and uncertainty for what the future holds. Both our freedom and our ability to connect with each other appears to be threatened bringing grief and fear and anger to the surface.

But this situation is temporary, and an opportunity for us to dig deeper into ourselves and into what we sense we are capable of becoming. Beyond the virus and the tremendous economic and emotional suffering happening, there is also a palpable sense of awakening consciousness for those of us willing to receive the gifts that come with great challenges.

Now more than ever, we need to open our hearts and minds to creative solutions and different ways of being. We need a willingness to listen more deeply, to our own inner knowing and to each other – including those with different points of view than our own. Like my sister Kathy, we can focus on what connects us, rather than what separates us.