When something dies

This is about the tenth attempt at getting a post written. Or anything else written, for that matter. I have been trying to figure out how to put words to the small litany of things that are pulsing at the back of my mind.

The unifier - the Idea of all of them - has finally come to me.

It's about Death.

Yeah. Death.

Ever watch Houseboat? There is a scene in which the dad says to the son that yes, he (the dad) will have to die -- to make room for the son and for his sons and for his son's sons. Every year we watch the truth of this. Every year, the old year dies to make room for the new. Every year, we become separated again from every attachment and everything we have loved and everyone we have known. We cannot step twice in the same river. (Heraclitus) The river is not the same - water flows on. And we are not the same. Time flows on.

Every day must die at the setting of the sun ... or there could be no tomorrow after the night. Every year must die. And every relationship. Over and over and over. Whether it will be a new relationship tomorrow is never certain at the death. But the death happens. The grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies. This makes crops. The death happens, and sometimes, the death is the seed of new life. Not always, but sometimes.

What happens to us as we get older? Do we forget to grieve over the dying wheat? Do we decide that it's silly? Or useless? Or wrong? I am starting to suspect that we should be careful about this issue of death and grief. I am starting to wonder if we inadvertently build a back log of grief, and then, far out of proportion to the thing that breaks the dam, great and overwhelming devastation happens. Our sludge buries us because we saved it up. We were making power. We thought that the pile of fly ash was just a fact of our productive lives. And then one day the dam bursts.

And if we stop so long in grief at our losses at the close of our years? If we stop and stay and begin to feel that grief is our most natural state?

Then we are too intent on grieving to notice it when the sun comes up again. And the sun does come up.

So, here, at the close of this year, I bring my little grains of wheat to the edge of the trench I dig, and I bury them. First, I bury my fertility of body, and pray for the gentle sun and rain of spring to bring fertility of soul. Personal reading and personal Rule of Life to water, school to feed and tend, the warmth of brilliant mind and silly conversation at home to germinate, and the hope of a crop is in the soil.

This year I will also put some relationships and affections into the ground near the fence where they cannot invade the garden. I am at a loss as to how to tend them, and experimenting with them has not gone well. These seem to be wild plants. I have no ability to handle them without doing damage to them - or to me! I keep getting stung. Nothing for it, but to let it go.

All these little deaths, and a few big ones. I plant them in the ground. I thank them for their lives. I kiss them good bye, and I remember to feel the sadness. I owe them that much at least. And in their honor, I wait for the spring.


Willa said...

Beautiful post, Stephanie. I am not quite at your stage of life yet (even though we're probably close to the same age, I still have little ones in the nest) but you are certainly giving me some wayposts for the road ahead.

Marchi Wierson said...

I have a feeling that my hearts capacity to be honest with sorrow or grief relates to my hearts capacity to be happy, see beauty, and love. If I aim for happiness by avoiding grief then I have put a tall fence around my willingness to feel and have in turn lost some range of happiness. I am also aware though that I have a line of willingness to feel, past which I can not bare to cross. yet. I expand by tiny picas and pixels. and I also pull back at times like a dry sponge. grief is in everything and it is unknowable in full, as is love.