Time tears past me at an alarming pace and the expanse between you and I grows wider by the hour. How have I’ve made it this far from where you left and what does it mean of love that I can survive each day, month after month, all these fucking years?
I don’t tell people right away that I am the mother of a dead child. It changes how they behave towards me. I know that the sheer existence of bereaved parents makes people uncomfortable, that we are a reminder of every parent's worst nightmare, proof that the unimaginable is possible.
And yet, seven years after Ashlie's death I chose to mark myself externally as I am within — the walking wounded.
I will never GET OVER this loss. I will never NOT grieve or feel the rage of Mouse's Sorella di Ira.
And so, I wear her now as a badge of honor, a survivor's scar and a warning.
You ask how I am and I say Okay and you furrow your brow and ask, What's wrong? And I know you don't really want to know that I have struggled for six years to get to this honest Okay and for me, Okay is fucking fantastic.
One of my co-workers lost her husband this week after 38 years together. I cannot begin to fathom the monumental loss she's experiencing right now. The condolence cards make the rounds, finally landing on my desk this morning. Both cards are chock full of stock sympathies because nobody knows what to say to grieving people.
Even other bereaved people.
Some of the well-wishers have mentioned her husband by name. That's always nice. There's a lot of sorry for your loss and in my prayers. One truly thoughtful bit comes from an unexpected source, reminding me that we only ever see the surface of nearly everyone we meet.
I stare at one of the few blank spaces for a long while before I write the following:
It's okay to not be okay for as long as you need to.
What I want to write is that I know it feels like you can't survive this separation. You can. You are going to carry the grief with you wherever you go for the rest of your life, but it will feel lighter as you get stronger. After a profound loss, we don't have to strive for Great.
Some of us are just working to be Okay.
An Open Letter to an Evangelical Christian Friend,
Thank you for sharing your life with me. I enjoy the time we spend together and value your friendship. I sense your disappointment each time that I decline an invitation to visit your church. I have tried to explain briefly that my relationship to religious things in complicated. I am open to a deeper conversation about these things, but it has not transpired.
Thus far you have merely insisted that your church is not like those churches.
It is a lovely thing that you have found a church where you feel welcomed and supported. I am truly happy that you have you have a faith which comforts you and I understand the instinct to want to share your joy. I remember it, even. But from time to time, I am concerned that our relationship is predicated on you trying to save my soul.
Which is not going to happen.
It seems like you think that if I just heard the Good News, I’d be in.
I believe in neither Hell nor Heaven. I accept the possibility that they may exist despite my disbelief. But I am done living my life in fear of the one and pursuit of the other.
I can still recite the names of all the books of the bible and there are hymns that will always have the power to make me weep. I appreciate prayer in its many forms, and am fascinated by theology and religious expression. Losing my faith was one of the greatest losses I have ever experienced. I can no longer believe in some great plan, or a benevolent benefactor in the sky, and if my eternal damnation is a result of that loss, so be it.
I describe myself as an engaged agnostic because it’s easier to explain than a mystical atheist.We could talk about that more, if you'd like, but just to be clear, I have no interest in trying to convert you to my view. I think faith is a lovely thing for those who can afford it. I no longer can.
And so, my friend, I need you to accept my eternal damnation and decide whether or not you’re interested in being my friend in the here and now with no agenda – no expectation.
I really hope you are.
[cross-posted at DailyKos.com]