Death, the universal inevitable, is barely understood.
Science monitors the signs of life, and history records the time of their cessation.
There is breath and then, there is no breath.
The doctor says, “I’m sorry,” and moves on.
Time now exists for us in terms of before and after.
But what happens in the moment remains a mystery.
There is a tear in the fabric.
A flap opens.
The departing spirit escapes as it closes, leaving a perfect surface and an invisible scar that only the bereaved can feel.
The tear on the surface disappears.
But the mirror tear, the one inside the heart, does not.
The change in the living brought on by the change in the dead remains.
We bury the body, fill the grave with dirt, but the gaping hole, the grievous wound, remains open.
Open and raw.
Deepened by shallow thoughts.
Widened by narrow-minded platitudes.
Caved in by the sudden avalanche of memory.
Absorbing tears the way water sinks in to beach sand as a child pours from her bucket.
And the hole never quite closes.
We stitch it up, as best we can, eager to feel whole again.
But the moment we do, start to feel whole again, we finger the jagged, bumpy scar with perverse curiosity until it throbs, overcome by the guilt of forgetting fused with the need to remember.
Pain cannot be buried in a box or sealed in an urn.
It must be taken out every so often, so we can feel its weight, its heft in our hands, its sharp contours that cut to the bone.
Acknowledging the suffering, refusing its denial, and embracing the excruciating growth it brings, is the only way to hold on to the joy the pain took from us, to carry it forward, and to be free to create joy in our remaining moments, knowing, that at any moment, we may lose that joy again.
Originally published on Tom Aplomb