Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Grief's Fire at Sweet 16

A circumspect message from my fortune cookie yesterday, 7/27/10
It brought both a smile, gratitude, & some tears

Chey's butsudan

Sometimes, when I am visited by grief, words to describe our time together drip from my fingers, like anxious rain drops drip off my redwood patio, onto the thirty rosebush below, and over the heather river rocks.

At other times, words forsake me, march into hiding, and my fingertips dry up like the crusty, desert soil. I become overtaken by grief that is word-less. When this happens, I often find myself more emotional than usual, unable to transform my tears into neat little letters of the alphabet, the ones my children tried so hard to sound, the ones that make feelings more sensical and manageable, ordered and less chaotic.

I realized that one of the central points I've learned is that my grief mastery requires a constant balancing between staying close enough to the fire that I feel its heat, but not so close that I am entrapped and burned by it. I don't want to forget my pain, or disinvite grief from my life. Certainly not. To do so would be to relinquish ties, and to do that would be to dismiss my love for her. No. Yet, I could not constantly remain sitting so close to the fire that it seduces me into its flames, harkening me to stay, don't leave, persuading me to come closer. It would paralyze me, capture me, and surely I could not see anyone else sitting 'round the fire, entranced by its dark and delicious ambiguity.

I sat by the fire this week. I was mesmerized. 16 is a big-girl-year, and it hit with hot fury. However, I choose not to sit so close today, stare too long, or give up my place in the world of the living. So I am scooting away, and turning my back to the fire until it, again, needs attention- a piece of wood or some oxygen to breathe.

There are too many hurting others, too much love in my life and the world, too much beauty yet undiscovered, for me to stay in that place right now. We had our time together, deeply enmeshed, and the flames of grief have reminded me of their power. That energy is better used elsewhere, for now, though, and it's a new day.

Happy 16th Birthday Chey. Like the flames of grief, my love for you will never, ever die. You are, indeed, that which casts its shadow on all that is both painful and beautiful in my life.

**And, a very special thank you to all those who remembered, sent notes, and lit candles. You cannot imagine how much it means to have others think of her life. Thank you so much**


Sarah Bain said...

You are welcome. Your sister-in-grief indeed! :) Sarah

Karin said...

Yes, it is a very fine line to walk and live. Thank you for mastering it so well. xox

Virginia said...

Oh, yes. How true these words are - thank you for sharing them with us.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Thank you Karin. Thank you.

Holly said...

Happy Birthday Chey ♥

Ya Chun said...

Happy Birthday Chey. And thank you for sharing your mama with us.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is beautiful and deeply moving. It's impossible to read this and not share in your sense of loss as well as vividly remember personal sources of grief. Happy Birthday Chey.

Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said...

Thank you so much everyone. Thank you.


The soul still sings in the darkness telling of the beauty she found there; and daring us not to think that because she passed through such tortures of anguish, doubt, dread, and horror, as has been said, she ran any the more danger of being lost in the night. Nay, in the darkness did she, rather, find herself.

--St. John, Dark Night of the Soul

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