Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Festival of the Lights

Tonight I went to see the Festival of the Lights at the Grotto. The last time I was there was on October 25th, three months to the day that Nathaniel died.

In October, they were just starting to put up all of the lights for the big Christmas season. Tonight, when I looked in the program, I read, "The Grotto, also known as The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, was established 87 years ago. . ." I nearly laughed out loud.


I'm not Catholic. I was raised Mormon. For about the last 10 years, my spiritual practice has been mostly informed by Buddhist principles, but I've never formally taken refuge. Since Nathaniel died, I have been grasping for anything that makes sense.

Nothing makes sense. Especially in the first few months. Right after Nathaniel died, for the first time in my life, I felt as though God Hates Me. That is the voice that pounded in my brain, in the heaviness, the skin-of-lead, state of complete despair that held me. I would try to recall my beliefs before Nathaniel died, and roll my eyes at my own innocence.

There was (is) no resonance with peace.

There were (are) moments when the pain would ease, but there was (is) no real refuge.

My mind jumps around uncontrollably from this to that to this to that, forging new mental pathways that never existed before. When Nathaniel died, my mind splattered like a bug that hit a windshield.

For months, I had no capacity to follow my breath or find the present moment. Torment. Torment. Torment. For months.

Now, it's getting a little better. I do have moments, very briefly, when I can be present. I can meditate, but I might start to just cry. My face sometimes contorts into the gnarly mask of grief while I'm just sitting there.

I'm still searching.  My husband was raised Jewish, but he's about as Jewish as I'm Mormon. I have the email of a rabbi who, I hope, can help me mark and process the grief. Understand the world of loss. Tearing my clothes? Yes, that makes sense. Is it too late to do that?

After Nathaniel, I can relate to Mary when I see the images of the pieta. I know exactly what it feels like to hold my dead son in my arms. Images of a bleeding heart. Yes, I can relate to that, too. I carry one in my chest. 

I guess that reading that sentence in the program struck me because, in that moment, it illuminated my changed self. Two words, put together, that have a whole new meaning for me: sorrowful, and mother. I knew the word sorrowful as one thing six months ago, and something new now. It's like I need a different word completely. Or a different language.

And then there's the word mother.  

Put together, the words mean something different still.

Sorrowful mother. Yes.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Suzanne. I can remember having that same voice, grinding away at me in my head, God hates me, God hates me. This experience is one that would take the most deeply held faith and give it a good old shake I think?

    So much here, that splattering against the windscreen, the utter lack of comfort, torment.

    I don't think it's ever too late for tearing clothes, I've certainly felt like it a few times. Even now.

    Words like sorrowful, the image of the pieta, the figure of Mary herself. All hold very different meanings to me now.