Entering the Abyss
Monday was the second anniversary of my eldest son’s death. (How many times did I type different words, euphemisms, cryptic or veiled references to this truth, only to just hit the backspace button and come back to writing it simply and to the point? Lots.)
Grieving is exhausting. To do it right, it takes a hell of a lot of stamina. And by "doing it right," I mean making an effort not to lose one’s self in the abyss. Allowing your heart, mind, and soul to fly into the crevasses, into the void that allows no light, but also pulling up when it feels like you’ll never take in another breath yourself, and allowing yourself to remember just why it is you mourn.
I cannot even remember what we did last year to commemorate our loss. This year, 11/11 fell on a Monday, so Karl, Maximus, Sage and I were separated, at least physically, each carrying on in the physical world, as best as we could, as if this day were no different than any other.
Unbound as a result of having no appointments with clients, I am free to just be, to listen to Spirit’s guidance as to how best to honor my son. I retreat to the back of our property, behind our barn, where cattails and wild grasses dance in abundance and the carcasses of several dead Christmas trees mingle in a pile of toppled branches, yearning to burn.
Opening my mesa, my ‘sacred bundle’ or ‘medicine bag,’ on the grass, I arrange the objects within it into a configuration that can hold me, not unlike the ceremony I performed on 11/11/11 – twelve hours before Karl drowned.
But before I sit within it, I create Sacred Space by calling in the Directions and the archetypal energies that reside in the North, East, South, West. I call in the spirit and essence of Mother Earth, as well as Father Sun, Grandmother Moon, our Brothers and Sisters of the Star Nations, and of course, the overarching energies of Mother/Father God, Goddess, All That Is.
It is while I am inviting in the energy of Mother Earth, my forehead connected to the ground through the center of my mesa, that I feel the welling from within. I feel Her presence coming up, or perhaps enveloping me is a better description. She is present. She is here. She embodies Mother energy, and She is oh-so-familiar to me, containing within her essence, the memory of my own mother – yet so much more vast.
The tears that yearn to express that bottomless sense of loss arise from my bowels, my womb, the bottom of my spine. Trickling at first, they soon pour from my eyes onto the sacred cloth before me. There are no words. In that moment, I am simply with The Mother. Held by her, comforted by her, knowing that She Knows.
Eventually, as my sobs subside, I talk to Her. "Why do I always cry when I connect with You? What is this? What does this Great Sorrow mean and why do I hold it so?" I’m mostly referring to the times when I have engaged in ceremonies in which my connection to her has been augmented by her plant children – though certainly not always, some of which I’ve written about. My connection to the Mother goes way back – and has always, always been accompanied by Sadness.
I lift my face from the cloth and look around. The honeybee that alighted on my hand when calling in the Directions has disappeared, but a yellow butterfly flits by, right in front of me, and nonchalantly lights upon a stalk of straw a few feet from where I kneel. Behind my left shoulder, a screech owl calls out two times – then is silent. It’s early afternoon…I’m definitely not alone.
In a realization that is beyond words and seems to arrive on the breeze, I understand that I carry this Sorrow – Her sorrow – precisely because I Know Joy. I Know Love. All at once, I feel as if I embody the paradox that resides in feeling the grief of losing a love that can never be lost.
It is both the ultimate burden and the ultimate privilege. I carry the pain because I live the joy.
I don’t like to "go there," but I’m committed to its necessity. I will not deny my pain. I will not deny the void that resides within my heart that will never be healed. Yet, I much prefer to focus upon what lies beneath the loss. And to get there, I have to go through it, through the pain; I must refuse the urge to turn away because it hurts too much and just go there. As often as it takes.
Because underneath it all, there is Love. And love, ultimately, is all there is. It’s what we want, what we fear, what we seek, what we’re terrified of losing, and what we would not exist without.
I saw this video this morning and saw in it a reflection of my experience on Monday afternoon. It made me realize that, yes, we must face our greatest fear – by loving fiercely. Every day. Knowing that it could end in the blink of an eye. And yet never, ever. Not truly.