On grief, and the way it moves in my body

Once we have grieved something, does grief ever fully leave our hearts, or do we walk with it always? This morning I woke up feeling good, that anchor of loss that’s been following me the last few weeks, that descends into the center of my chest upon waking, was absent. Even the nature of it being absent took a while to compute, in my ascent through layers of consciousness from dreaming to dreamless, to awake, to thinking, to noticing thoughts. Thoughts of this beloved or that one took even longer to surface. Breath came first, and continued with ease, no anchor to work its way around to nourish my lungs, my blood, my limbs.

Now I am upright and making coffee. Out of nowhere I feel a pang, right where the anchor would have been. An open slice of flesh where the tip of the anchor might have nestled, like a magnet to each other (this pain receptor lives here, this pain inflictor a puzzle piece match) The wound is now confused at having no debris in it, now free to heal. But it still hurts. Ouch.

Out of habit, the pang elicits thoughts: I watch my mind latch to thoughts of this beloved or that one. And I pause. These thoughts are just the highest branches of a very large tree, closest to the sun, given the most light of my consciousness. But there are also a larger limbs further down, covered with moss cool and dank in the shade. There is a stately trunk full of water and all of life’s memories that descends into a massive root system, connecting me/this tree to the mycelium of the world.

These roots are deep within me, and I follow them to my pelvis, my blood, and the timelessness of before my birth. All these layers of me, my story and the stories of those who’ve come before me, pain, loss and trauma we have sustained over time, all these layers are here with me now, brought to attention by this open wound. These thoughts are the top-most branches of a very long story. So I stay with me this time. This pang is mine, it’s all for me. Not this beloved or that. But just me. All me. Thank you beloved for loving me, for helping me see myself more, for eliciting these wind whips that rustle and slice at my upper most branches, which ripple to my roots, reminding me of the long story I am a part of, that I hold, that blows me in the wind.

And I am still standing. Upright in my kitchen, making coffee, I pause and listen to this anchor-less opening in my heart. The grief particles, no longer magnetized to Other, are free to drain down through my roots, become part of the collective memory of the world’s root system. Down here it is quiet and free of judgement. Grief is celebrated as it composts into nutrients to proliferate new blossoms. The earth sings with grief, and says thank you for this life that I can turn into love.

Upright in my kitchen, I feel these grief particles descend, adding their story as another ring in my trunk. What is left in my heart opening? Rather than heal and close, it chooses to remain open. It is proud and strong, fed by a trunk who knows it’s story, roots that are connected to all that is, earth that welcomes grief. I peer inside and see a patchwork of sutures holding my heart together: old love notes, should-haves, could-haves, lessons, triumphs and light spurt out from between the stitches. My heart is busting at the seams with all it has learned. And the sutures are strong – I know I am held together even as I fall apart. These sutures expand with the fabric of me, with the growth of this tree, reaching towards more sun, more light, more love.

(written the morning after the full moon in Aries)


october 6, 2017
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