I am a Living Shrine
I sit and listen to the doves singing their song outside. The crickets accompany them, along with the occasional mysterious bird chirping and the distant sound of the creek in the background.
There so much life in this world. So many living things. They all have their sounds, their habitats, their purposes, their alchemy within the greater tapestry of life. The thing I am most aware of is the mystery of how they all got here, how each species came to be. How each living breathing entity knows where to go to get their nutrients for survival and how to find its way back to the home it belongs to, or how to protect itself from imminent dangers.
I suppose with each question asked out into the world, I ask similar ones of myself. What are my sounds, my habitat, my purpose, my alchemy, and how do I fit into the great tapestry of life? How did I get here? How did I come to be? Where do I get my nutrients from? How do I protect myself from imminent danger.
I suppose it’s not the answers I am learning to find, but rather, I am learning to live the questions. Answers seem too final for a life like mine, and if I had them, I don’t think I would even know how to trust them.
I have now seen way too much of this life to think about answers. I am now leaning deeply into the understanding that there are many answers, and even more people who think they have them. Indeed, answers are so changeable according to mood, outlook, perceptions, and projections.
The dictionary describes an answer as: “A thing said, written, or done to deal with or as a reaction to a question, statement, or situation.” It appears I am starting to understand that “dealing with” and “reacting” are ineffective responses to a very mysterious and unanswerable life.
I am now approaching the last days of the fourth season since my son’s passing. This has been the most challenging year of my life on all levels. I have grown immensely, shattered illusions that I clung to for dear life, been stripped of all of my own ideas and plans. I have surpassed my human ability to express pain, faced disintegration, only to be met with more life, lived with an unquenchable un-survivable yearning, and learn how to “see” in the darkest of darkness.
I have lived days where I could not smell the smells of life, nor hear the sounds of any wondrous creature, nor even sleep long enough to dream. Food lost its taste, and all I looked at turned into pain. I faced days where anything I touched reminded me that I was dying, and I couldn’t even bear the skin of another close to mine.
My face, my hair, my pillow, and the earth below me soaked with daily tears and my body sweat through my clothes day and night from life’s fire burning me from within.
I could stand in a room full of others and not even know they were there. I could respond to my life but hovered five feet above my body at all times. Most days, time stood still, as did my hope that I would ever feel any other emotion besides grief. Air felt painful to breathe in, and the sun and rain passed through me as if I were invisible, or not worthy of touching.
Surviving the loss of my child will never be a happy thing. I will never find an acceptable answer of why he had to go. I now know that my healing takes place in living the question, and perhaps an even deeper healing comes when I am able to stop even asking the question.
My life is shifting now as the last days of this spring season find its way through my timeline. For most, spring is a time to plant gardens and rejoice in the sunshine returning to warm the earth. For me and my family, this year, it is a painful reminder of the last days we were able to spend with our beloved Koa by our side.
This time last year we had just returned from a family retreat at Britenbush, hiking, soaking, chanting with Benji Werthimer, and lots of laughing and playing. Strange how just a few days down the road from that magnificent trip I would be walking out of the emergency room without my child. Forever gone.
So many teachings came to our family this year about not making any major decisions in the first year after loss. I understand now why that is so. The first and most apparent is that we were not even in our bodies for most of the first year. The second was that, once you do land in your body, you have to live with the decisions that you’ve made.
We chose this year to stay in our home, to exercise, to eat well, to cry, face into the pure flame of the pain, to stay married, stay close, and wait. Just wait for something else to come and have mercy on us.
Faith told us that within this great human existence lies the balance of all things.
Birth and death are silent allies, and that joy is the balance to pain and suffering. Within the dark is the light, and within this great loss new life would come.
It hardly seemed believable. The only options seemed to be to believe it or die myself. I chose life.
Waiting. Sometimes silently screaming, sometimes earth shattering roars passed the time as I just waited and stood in the flames.
A new seed has now been planted. Life’s promise has taken hold in my womb space. I am now a garden that holds both life and death within it. I am pregnant with my third child at age 42. I was finished having children after Koa was born, but after he died, I knew I would birth again. Not to recreate him, but to chose life again.
Is this new child my answer to my prayers for mercy? No, she is not.
This child is a blessed question, a question that is now asking: Can you hold life and death together? Do you see how beautifully powerful you are? Life-giver, midwife to death. She who went on a profound journey into the underworld and came back with a seed in her belly.
I am a living shrine.