Such a heaviness descends on a home after a great loss. You can feel it, and you can taste it. Bitter’s not the right word. It tastes like old copper. And it makes the skin around your face feel like sand and your bones feel like rust. Grief hurts.
Rather than try to postpone the experience, I decided to dive right back into the game. The only way to get through it, is to get through it.
Salix is so strong, so while I knew the grief would hit her hardest, I also knew that she had the resilience to let this experience pass through her.
I was most afraid of seeing onezero’s grief. When Grim was standing in the room to collect Chandler’s spirit, onezero’s wails were like nothing I’d heard before. I’ve heard Sim’s whimper. And I’ve heard them moan. onezero keened.
I felt concerned that onezero would feel orphaned. I had this idea that Chandler provided her with grounding here, and that without him she would feel completely abandoned. When she headed to bed that first night, I trusted that at least sleep would bring some solace.
Did I mention that Grim is a family friend? He started calling Miracle a few days before her time was up, and since then, he’s been calling Salix to chat every day. There’ve been times when we’ve had a few Grims in town, so I wasn’t sure if the one who came for Chandler was the family-friend Grim until I got this notice.
Right, Grim! We’ll be seeing you around. And don’t forget to call!
The next day at breakfast, Salix put on a brave face. It was Tamarind’s first day at work. She decided to follow her dad’s career path and become a professional artist.
“I never thought I’d walk into that studio as one of the artists,” Tam said. “Do you think everyone will know who I am?”
“Of course, everybody will know that you’re the daughter of Chandler Adam, Master of the Real! But that doesn’t mean that there’s not room for you to become also known on your own as Tamarind Bough, soon-to-be Mistress of the Impression!”
It was the first time they’d said his name since Grim came.
Tamarind felt focused and confident when she left for work. She knew she had the strength and the vision to make her own mark as an artist.
Art is bringing the family solace and even joy. Late last night, while her sister and children slept, Salix expressed her sorrow on the canvas. And when she finished, though she still felt very sad, she had to smile. Here was her first masterpiece.
It was a simple drawing, in warm colors, and though it showed the sadness of something broken, it offered the hope that what was broken could be fixed.
She painted another masterpiece the next morning. With the sun up, she felt the courage to look right into her heart, at those feelings of abandonment and despair.
When my own dad made his great transition out of this human form, the only way I could withstand my grief was through the practice of mindfulness. At those times when I feared I’d be swallowed by the pain, when I thought I might not emerge again and that all joy in life would be devoured, too, I felt the soles of my feet on the ground. I became aware of my breath. I focused on the task at hand, which, often enough, was something involving water: doing the dishes, watering the garden, filling the kettle for tea.
And as I fell into the present moment, I stepped out of the pain. Here was this moment–now. And it was connected to the timelessness in which my father still existed. There was no separation, no death. It was connected, too, to all the “nows” I had spent with him, every single moment in our lives together when we had both been so engaged in the present moment that we were living, together, now.
This may have not been the shortest route through grief, for it was four years before I could completely open my heart to beauty again. And it was nine years before the pain above my heart dissolved. Yet it was the only way I knew of that I could move through that without becoming destroyed or losing something that was integral to myself and my connection with my father.
Salix has been trying all the traditional methods to move through grief: crying under the covers, giving herself a pep talk. If the plants were thirsty, she’d water them with tears.
onezero turned to meditation. And within moments, she found that the duration of the grieving moodlet was rapidly decreasing. Meditation was not a way to escape grief: it was a way to walk directly into it, to face it with conscious awareness, and to move through it. Her single mommy joined her, and as onezero and Salix meditated together, the sun rose over Cradle Rock.
When Tamarind returned from her first day at work, she went directly to the long line of tombstones and stood at the very end, where the newest tombstone stood.
At sunset, with her eyes puffy from crying, she stood on the yoga mat and faced west. Checking in with herself before yoga practice, she set her intention: Face it bravely, all that life brings.