By association, that made me think about connections with those who are not yet alive.
There are those I help, and those who help me. There are people, there are other kinds of life I am connected to.
There are not quite so strong first-order connections, people I do business with, neighbors in my community, the web of life-forms that feed the soil for my garden.
There are what I think of as strong second-order connections, the partners of close friends, extended family members, a larger web of life that feeds and sustains me, often unnoticed or little regarded, but important all the same, and deeply appreciated.
There are further-order connections, direct/indirect: People whose work inspires or entertains me, and I weave them into my network of connections. People who rely on the work I do. Leaders whose decisions shape many things about my world and my life. Friends of friends, people whose stories touch me, who enter my thoughts, my prayers, my meditations, for good or ill.
What happens to that connection, when someone dies?
What happens, when they drop away from my conscious awareness?
Are those changes different in essence?
They change the nature of the connection, surely, a qualitative difference. I will never be able to share experiences in quite the same way, with the best friend I had when I was eleven, who died of juvenile cancer. Yet, Laurel Ann remains connected to me, and will be, forever. She shaped part of who I am. So did my Grandfather who died before I was born, by how his connection with my mother shaped her, and in turn she shaped me.
All life is truly on some level connected. Even forms of life with which I can have no conscious communion-- the life in the depths of the sea geographically so far removed from me. Even the stars themselves, a form of life so different from my own that I can interact with them only in gratitude.
Fractals are a never-ending pattern. Infinitely complex, they are self-similar across widely varying scales. Shaped by recursion in dynamic systems, they are never the same twice yet infinitely familiar.
As an individual, connections began shaping me even before I existed-- fractal patterns of evolution, life creating life, sustaining life, cannibalizing life to create more life. My consciousness in this body, coalesced within an awareness of individuality, separate from and yet infinitely connected to other life, was shaped by DNA and its expression, the cluster of people and places and lives that supported my family.
Those connections shaped the connections I then made with other life- human, other-than-human.
Not a single one of those connections, once formed, has ceased to exist.
My father died, but he continues, in my connection with him. It is a different kind of connection than it was when I was a little girl he could pick up, and twirl around, and dance with, and take to a baseball game, and embrace.
Yet every dance step still exists, too. Whether I remember it, or not, it is part of that connection.
So are the dance steps I have not yet taken, with the children of my grandchildren, with the lovers I have yet to meet, with the garden that will receive my ashes someday.