Day 7, this last day of Shiva.
We, Fangie and I, have been as mice, crushed in the jaws of the ravening black werewolf of death and grief that has hunted us down. Now that the monster has dispatched whom it came for – Fangie – I can feel its jaws loosening around me. Perhaps it has lost interest. Is turning its baleful red eyes on someone else. For the moment.
That mythic monster. So much bigger than Fangie, than I. Vaster and more eternal than all who live. Sensitive, thoughtful beings, of and in this community of life, know this. We can never fully turn our backs on this monster. It is as much a presence in the community of life as joy is.
Now that shiva is ending, now that the thunderstorm that also visited on the morning of Fangie’s death has heralded the return of cool and coming autumn, I want to turn my back on nothing. I want to understand, include, be with, all. No matter how terrible.
This is not noble. This is self-interested.
From time to time this week, I have caught myself turning my back in various ways. I could tell the difference between the monstrous pain, which was at least real – and that other thing, that turning of the back. The marching through routine acts, done flatly, stiffly, obsessively. Blocked, alienated. The Olympic theme song, running on and on and on through my head, in a mindless endless relentless loop.
The grief was real. The other?
I write this in the trembling of incipient tears (yet again) – but now I am thinking that the grief was preferable to the turning of the back. That denial of life, the opposite of life, in all its flat unmoved-ness. The turning of the back, in a kind of rage with all life bled out of it.
I think grief is preferable. The feeling in grief’s wake is preferable. This morning I feel soft, slow, exhausted – but my breathing is deep and full. I don’t remember breathing, in those moments of back-turning. There, I recall having no feeling of life.
This morning I found a long-lost earring. It is beyond me how it could have survived month after month of vacuuming and ceaseless traffic, only to turn up this morning as I glanced down this time, as I so often do, after Fangie’s passing. Searching for whatever little signs of him that remain behind.
Two little pearls. Fangie and me.
Found. Lost. Found again?
This evening, as the sun sets on this last day of first mourning, I am going to take Fangie’s favorite green mousie to my women’s group. With that mouse, we will mark the end of this first period of the rest of our lives. Together, as with you.