Thursday, December 27, 2012

mother and fawn

I read this Buddhist adage that says, "The cause of death is birth."

Yeah, unless someone isn't born yet, then the cause of death is sex.

I have this outpouring of appreciation for the support we received this year around Lucia's birthday. There is no rhyme or reason to grief. It stalks, pounces on its time, not yours. I reached out and said I wasn't doing well. That act itched me. Eczema stretched the length of me. I jittered and rubbed myself against old bare trees. Scratching the vulnerability away, but it stayed. I needed to feel it to remember my strength.

One Thursday in the middle of the month, I was cooking arroz con pollo for a friend, which is very much like paella, except with chicken instead of chorizo and seafood. And the thought occurred to me that I need wine for the rice. Wine goes in paella, and arroz con pollo and my mouth. At least it did before I quit drinking. Back then, I began drinking when I began cooking. I was alone with the children, and I searched the cabinets and found a bottle of unopened pinot noir.

My heart opens like a lotus, calls for vulnerability as her food. There are moments when only faith stands between me and a drink, or me and an angry word, or me and my death. Grace surrounds me as I stared at the bottle. I don't know if I would have drank a glass or the bottle or nothing. But it caught me up, suddenly afraid of slipping. Suddenly aware that wine is not necessary in any dish I cook now. Cooking and drinking. Drinking and cooking. They are all tied together for me.

Later in the day, I went into a church basement, too overcome to speak, I cried, buried my face in my hands, deeply grieved and full of want.

My daughter is dead four years.
My daughter. My sweet sweet girl.
And sometimes there is nothing to do but drink. And I cannot drink.

Women held me. All week I cried into women's shoulders, in their hair, on the phone, in their inboxes. This year the grief lessened. I felt a lightness of being that seemed so far away in the last three years. There is magic in my life now. A seed of connection to the Divine, a moment of breath between declarations of her state of mortality. Then the week of her death and birth came, and it was like it happened yesterday, or perhaps even that very day. But I feel protective of me right now. I mother myself now. Care for me, allow me to rest, give me the space for solitude and vulnerability and bad behaviour, yet let me curl up and weep. I feel worthy of protection and grace and connection to the Divine.

January 10, I will be sober two years. My daughter dead four last week, and my body creaking into year thirty-nine on the fourth of January. It all makes me feel old and brand new, like a fawn, spots like code across my back, and my legs not quite strong enough to hold my own weight and yet hours away from running.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

the end of the world

Tomorrow is the end of the world.

The calendar ends. Well, the Mayan one, and the dawn of a new era. It is the same day that my daughter died. She would be four on the day after the end of the world, if her world didn't end.

I remember what that feels like. The end of the world. The rug is pulled out from under you. Tumbling, nauseated, insomniatic, fearful, like you can suddenly see all the poison, juts, knives, umbilical cord accidents, guns, cars as weapons of mass destruction, televisions untethered to walls. You don't know you are dead. You are the hungry ghost, walking the circumference of the earth, looking to eat something that makes sense. It drops out the bottomlessness of you. Nothing nourishes. Nothing stops the pain of change. You float along and bark at people in your chair (they don't hear you, so you slam a door) and yell at people who bring in white flowers and mourn with you. In the blackness, you wait for instructions or an answer, or a white light, but mostly you wait for the end, but there is no end, no beginning, just a suffering of your own design.

The Izmana, the invisible sky god, swallows the earth. He creates it, he destroys it. The light points shoot out his hair follicles and his eyes, but you are stuck somewhere behind a sinus cavity. It is all darkness there, and you doubt a God could even swallow the earth, even though you saw it happening. I bought some extra cans of beans this week, and an extra loaf of bread. Maybe we can outlive the end.

They say we are on a path of ascension. I sat in circle, meditating. The information downloaded into my subconsciousness as the channel stood over me. I sleep to access the records. I am chilled to the bone, and excited, afire and alit, grounded and flying. Suddenly, Grief clears his throat.

Remember me? 
How could I forget you?
I am part of your ascension. I am part of your growth. 
You are part of the problem.
There are no problems. Perhaps I feel part of your regression and meditation right at this moment. But time is meaningless. What was is what is and what will be is what has happened.
It's been four years, certainly this raw grief is done.
It is and isn't. I am part of your enlightenment. Feel me for all of them, for her. 

Lucia stands in a white gown, hair cascading down her shoulders, and she reminds me of a magnet I have. My guides stand around her. And angel walks with her. She is fine.

My sweet girl. My sweet girl. My sweet girl.

She is fine, and I am suffering.


I wept in a circle of women. Cried into my friend's hair, and she held me like a child. I flushed and wiped my tears.


Even if you don't understand it.
Even if you can't figure out how four years later it can rising again, like the oceans.
Even if you think she was just a baby who hadn't breathed yet and what could we miss.
Even if you think other people have stronger, more justifiable grief.
Even if.

Honor the sacred grief. Bow to it. Sit with it. Have tea with it. Bring to the market. Cry on it, baptize it with those tears.

There will be a bonfire. I am wrapping a little bundle in black fabric. It will contain sage and lavender and dirt and mugwort and all those things that no longer serve me. I will pitch the earth into the fire until it becomes air later pour the water on to the coals. I will tell the story of Lucia's birth, how light was born into darkness, and the longest night served me as well as it could. We birthed her in dimmed lights, and I saw purple. I wept on her torn skin and held her close, and walked to my car five hours later. My vagina pulsing from the pain of releasing her. My womb contracting still. Leaving her in a hospital to be dissected then burned was the hardest thing I have thought I would do in my life. I thought they may have made a mistake, even as I held her lifeless body and pushed her tongue into her mouth so she didn't look so dead. But every minute without her has been just as hard as that way. In the earlier days, it was harder even.

I belong to a circle of women in my everyday life and another one in my on-line life where we talk about the sacred, magic, other dimensions, meditation, the divine, ascension, the hard spiritual work and the easy. We create divine crafts, and offer our gifts to one another. But I miss grieving people. I want to create a circle of grieving women, to honor the elements, to honor the seasons, to honor our spirits bruised and battered and still walking from the sunset. If you are interested in something like that, let me know. Leave a comment, or send me an email. 

Monday, December 17, 2012


Like everyone, the mass murder of innocent children in a primary school in Connecticut has me questioning everything in which I believe. Reading Dr. Jo's piece on her blog, No Words for Such a Tragedy, I felt compelled to write about it, open a forum for the community to talk about revisiting grief on a public and large scale, and to talk about our personal grief. She wrote, "Be attentive to our own losses and how this type of trauma reignites our sense of vulnerability and grief."

And yes, our vulnerability, our grief, our fear. When grief swallows me up whole again, I write my way out of its deep belly. But it's hard to write any way out of this horror. And anyway, we shouldn't. We sit directly in it. We must. We must know what guns do, what sick people do with guns, that these children have families grieving now. They are people. And that our powerlessness can be transformed into effective change, if we want it to. Grieving people are amazingly resilient, strong, compassionate. I wonder what we could do if we tried.

We find a path of compassion anyway we can. May this path of compassion drive us to a furious passion to change the things we can change, and call things by their proper name.

I am over at Glow today. Comfort.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Frost covers each blade of grass. Each blade of me.

There is a frozen impotence around me, a sense of rejection and awkwardness and tension. I miss not caring about connections. I fall back on isolation like the drink. It comforts me. Or rather it once comforted me, but now it aches in me. And I cling to sloppy communication like the ice on the world around me this morning. Unwelcome, it slides over everything. It appears more hyper the more it is ignored. I just crave connection. I become self-aware and retract again in daylight.

I brought a packages of goodies for strangers to the post. And my return address stamps smudged and my paper was too loose and the ink stained the postal worker's hand. She said, "You are my problem today."

I swallowed and thought, "I'm everyone's problem today."

I understand why my children believe a fairy paints each petal and blade of grass with ice. I step into our southern facing three season porch. The world is crystalline and silent. I stand in awe, as my stomach retracts into itself instinctively, and I blow into my hands. I want to say, "This is so beautiful." But no one is around to hear it. And anyway, I need to just be present in the beauty and silence. I keep filling moments with talking.

The frost will leave late this morning when the sun rises over the treeline. The porch will heat up. There is a difference between solitude and isolation, even if I am alone in both. There is sadness in New Jersey and the planets align and affect the magnetism of the earth and the birds shit right on my windshield and I will always still want to fit in somewhere. There is a postcard pinned to my inspiration board:


It is the week before her death and her birth. Four times around the sun and I still have nothing close to wisdom. I have ornaments with her name and rituals I can't bear to do some days. And a promise of her kisses in my sleep, which I won't remember or feel, but remind me that I am not just two someone's mother, I am three. The way we are all connected is grief and loss, I remind myself. And love too.

Monday, December 10, 2012


I used to think of myself as a series of uncategorized items. Undefined, out of color and alphabetical order. Bourbon and cigarettes, and unwashed lucky socks. Second hand combat coots, and mixed tapes with  names like Heartbreak. I suppose I used to think of myself as a junk drawer. I am none of those things anymore. I have none of those things anymore.

I have this shell that feels nothing like me. It hasn't in four years. It is like I walk through the earth in a machine, bumbling and inoperable, left moving me right. My body turns against itself, and the pain that plagues me feels finally like the manifestation of years of anguish. And that is what my body did to me, or rather I did to my body.

In the past few months, I have felt sick. Arthritis, depression, weight gain, exhaustion, lethargy. I can't remember to return calls or emails or thank you letters. Perhaps, after Lucia's death, I just couldn't muster too much sympathy for me. I grieved and felt sorry for myself, yes, but I also acted out, and retreated and pushed. Those two Angies, the one of good and the other of evil, I hadn't reconciled. It makes me sick. One swallows the other, like the Ouroboros devouring its tail. I am one, not two. I draw it, like an enso, in a few strokes a circle, and a snake eating itself. Then I sage it, say a prayer, meditate on the image. It is not an image of destruction and self-sabotage. It is about rebirth and recreation and primordial unity--that which was, is, and will be. 

I no longer want to feed myself the storyline of her death and of my responsibility. I don't want to feed it to my ailments and my dis-ease. I don't want to give it strength anymore. I wonder if I caused my sickness to find a cause of her death, then I shoo it away as overthinking. I don't want to speak its name anymore. Even when I think grief is over, it comes back, like a mobius strip, the beginning is the end, and the two are a moot point anyway. But the grief and the action of blame are too different things. I release the blame, release the hatred, release the guilt that I didn't even know was there anymore.

I open, open, unfold the turns and twists of me. I, maybe folded into a swan, am still just a piece of paper. The words, melodramatic and wordy, run around me like the rings of a tree. Each description a year, telling the story of me. The song I call out into the night, my song, as I journey into a world where time lays easily on top of itself, and the dead live again. I pocket the paper away, fold it into an elaborate fortune teller game.

Eenie, Meenie. Miney. Moe. Catch a Tiger by the toe...And then it reminds me:

"2008, you were the happiest you ever felt, most contented. Your daughter died."
"2009, You wept for a year. You walked through the underworld. You mourned. You alienated. You survived."

This upcoming year, the one ahead, I envision something magical, important. The path before me has changed in 2012, a hair pin turn back to a spiritual center I had before the marriage and babies and jobby jobs. It was covered over the decaying leaves of grief and alcohol and self-loathing. I sweep them away as I find my footing again.



Remembering this way of beauty and strength and surrender and unconditional love of everything including myself. There is moss on the northern facing parts of me, the shadow parts. I must turn toward the sun now, open to the air, water, fire, and earth. I emerge from the machine that has trapped the storyline of Lucia's death. I emerge from the sickness that I imagined killed Lucia and Michael into the strong body that brought me to this place right here. I emerge from self-loathing into a place of unconditional love and acceptance.

I have been meditating on a word to encapsulate my year. 2009, Grieve. 2010, Create. 2011, Recover. 2012, Open. 2013...what word can you be? I create another fortune teller. This one with words that encapsulate what I hope for--love, blessings, miracle, opening and counting until we reach the fortune for next year. I write on the inside all the words that I hope the next year will be: Balance. Self-acceptance. Open. Clarity. Growth. Trust. Heal. Spirit. But I know the word as I write it.


What is your word for 2013? What does it mean for you?