Grief is not a linear process.
You can go to a Burner pool party and have someone paint your body as an act of counseling and therapy—and wash away months of equanimity with your tears. Painting your battle scars, a deep red gash on your left thigh. A swirl of power on your right. Exposed ribs on your chest to show the world how your heart is raw and your body an open wound to the world. A blue squid-flame at your throat to show the power of your voice and its tether to something not quite human. All of this known and expected—and discussed.
And then he can gift you a little seed on your belly that surprises you both. And it will bring up a knot of grief—and to your surprise, the clarity of conviction that it was real; that there was a spirit in you that you failed to nurture into the world, that you miscarried out of existence.
And for weeks you’ll carry this knowledge of how you blame yourself, how you failed yourself and your family. And how in that failure, you started a whole sequence of decisions that led to the killing of a dream.
Even with all of your practicing positivity bias, the pleasant coolness of the Bay Area air, the beauty of the free life you’ve built and the evidence of harmonious awakeness you see all around you, you will struggle to see beyond your grief. That everything is broken. That only that which is lost matters.
And you’ll walk down the Promenade of the Presidio, lit by the full moon, first breathing heavily and then crying alone. Letting out tears and a seeping sadness with every labored outbreath. Moving your hands over your body, shaking out your arms like you’re trying to shake off a colony of ants that repulse you. The momentary panic of feeling these feelings.
And finally you reflect on someone saying to you, “You have been going real hard.” And how it’s been dawning on you so slowly that you’ve been going so hard and so fast so as not to feel… this. To not feel the grief and blame that have been welling up inside you, surging to be seen.
And it both calls to you and terrifies you to think of stopping. Just, stopping. And seeing what’s there.
And what you hear in the stopping for just this minute is a single word that comes up with a soft but resonant clarity: mother.