Catalysts are made to be burned.

I do not want this.

With every fiber of my being, I do not want to be here. The heat. The ants. The fucking gravestone that I refuse to maintain. I never bring flowers. I shouldn’t have to. I should not have to come here. For fuck’s sake.

It’s hot and humid today; the marble benches are uncomfortably warm, becoming unbearable after a few minutes. A breeze teases, though never quite commits. The three months of summer that lapse between the day she died and the day she was born are always full of internal and external chaos. I often can’t quite clear my head. Some years, I’ve seen this day coming weeks in advance. Some years, it kicks me in the face. This was a facekicker year. To be honest, I’ve never fully sat with the dismfort. I always, always run from it, in one way it another: The helplessness. The sense of injustice. The hopelessness. The emptiness. Always this emptiness.

Between one June and another September.
Made this unknowing, half conscious, unknown, my own.
[. . . ]
What seas what shores what granite islands towards my timbers
And woodthrush calling through the fog
My daughter.

Marina. TS Eliot

I fucking hate it. She’s not here. She’s gone. And nothing I can ever do will change that. I can’t hold her, can’t hear her voice, can’t tell her I love her. Loving someone with your whole self and then missing them with an intensity that becomes a physical ache, knowing that nothing will ever bring them back to you — that is true heartbreak. That is annihilation.

After the first death, there is no other

Dylan Thomas

I dreamt of her after coming home from the hospital (with an empty car seat; I don’t recommend it). Waking was losing her all over again. I decided then that I wouldn’t dream of her again, and I haven’t, save one last time. She was older, her hair longer, she had daisies. She told me she was fine. I told her I couldn’t dream of her because my arms were too empty without her. I know. They won’t always be. But they are still, in a way. Nothing can replace her, although her sisters and brother comfort me in the way that only children can. Yet each successive loss, large or small, echoes the one that bifurcated my life into before and after. Each loss threatens to topple the fragile scaffolding I’ve erected to keep the flood at bay, threatening to drown me. For years I wouldn’t let myself cry. “If I start, I’ll never stop.”

Behold and see
What a great heap of grief lay hid in me

Sonnets from the Portuguese 5. Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Being locked down emotionally does not suit my temperament. It became toxic. Each suppression of emotion triggers a cycle of acting out, a compulsive need to be heard. The ghost becomes a poltergeist, desperate to stop the ache. My sense of smallness feeds the fear of the unknown. I had someone I loved more than anything in the world. I could not keep her safe. I am alone in the dark. I try to anticipate loss, to arrest it before it annihilates me. Without the crisis, a state in which I lived for so long, I come unmoored.

How do we learn to live with the wound a loss of this magnitude creates? All loss is, ultimately, disappointment. It’s the termination of hope, seemingly too soon. But in reality, we cannot know how long we have here. Humans are beautiful this way — suspending their understanding of mortality and trusting that tomorrow will come so they can enjoy the present. The simplicity of this is lovely. I love your face; I will see it tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. We cannot live in a perpetual state of heightened awareness — it is too much for our bodies and our minds. So we assume a state of permanence in a reality that is constantly in flux. But those of us who have seen through the façade often have a hard time finding that sense of security again. Catastrophic loss reveals the catastrophe in every moment.

Dylan Thomas advised to rage against the dying of the light, but with respect to that Welsh drunk, what does that accomplish? The darkness will come, the world will end, the loved one will leave in one way or another. We are born alone and will die alone, with heaps of grief laying in wait for us in between.

We exist for one another

I am allowing to pass through me a statement of death

For Elizabeth. Jim Carroll.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the Jim Carroll poem quoted above — allowing a statement of death to pass through me. Acceptance of impermanence, whether the death in question is literal or figurative, is the only way to move forward. Accept the disappointment of what is ending, and it will become apparent that you can, in fact, live through it. The promises made that could not be kept, the life you believed you were going to lead, the love you’d imagined was real. Something will come after.

Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied

Ash Wednesday. TS Eliot.

The figurative death of potential is often the catalyst for something more complete than that to which we were clinging so tightly. Literal death, however, creates a void that is impossible to escape, but we are required to live around it. So we allow to pass through us a statement of death, and we then take life moment by moment. We draw breath. We allow ourselves to feel — really, truly feel — each awful emotion, each staggering cycle of overwhelming sadness. We allow ourselves to miss the one we’ve lost and become real. I miss you; a part of me will always be missing.

This life is brief and yet rife with connection and unforeseen joy. Without deep hurt, would we know the relief of love? Without disappointment, how could we identify the fulfillment of unrealized expectations? Until the moment we pass into oblivion, life will continually surprise us. Maintain your sense of wonder, and recognize those who love you unconditionally. Not everyone will, you know. Fight for them, for relationships conventional and unconventional. We are all interconnected, in the way of sympatheia. We are here to make this short, unfair, brutal life bearable for others, and ultimately, ourselves.

We exist for the sake of one another.

Marcus Aurelius.

[Note: You cannot heal one death with your own. That is simply not an option. If you are considering this, however, please reach out for support. Every life is unique and essential. You matter.]

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