Roots and Rainbow Tears

I am breaking. The coils of grief have finally worked their way through my body, piercing me like roots pierce the earth, reaching for life.
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The massacre of LGBT bodies on Saturday night, in my home state, hit me much harder than I thought it would.

I’m not straight. Personally (and this is very much a personal thing – I wholly and fully support individuals identifying however they choose), I have a real resistance to using terms to label myself (maybe that is a Queerness in itself?) but if I had to, I would identify as bi/pansexual and queer, though I currently am in a hetero marriage and to date the majority of my primary relationships have been hetero.

I frequented gay clubs in my youth in Florida. It is where I first learned that I could be comfortable in my then-gothy queerness, where I could just be me surrounded by people who also came there to be who they are. I’ve never been to Pulse, but I can imagine the atmosphere, the music, the queers in their beautiful black and brown and white bodies taking those moments by the hand and living them with full passion.

When I heard about the shooting on Sunday morning, I was getting ready to drive two hours to a meeting. All I thought was ‘I can’t do anything about this. I can only keep doing my Work.’ I got in the car, turned up the music, and pushed it aside.

Then someone else arrived at the meeting, visibly shaken by the events. And I thought ‘what the hell are we doing?’ We talked about it a little, and about the need for allies to protect Pride spaces this weekend. But there was a time when my first inclination – the very first thing that came to mind – would have been to hold some sacred space for us and those who died and those who mourn. Even if it was only woven into our meeting, at least a few moments to hold that space. But I didn’t, and I didn’t say anything.

And I realized I am usually the only person to suggest such a thing in the moment.

And so it was Monday when the visions started, the flashes of images and sound, voices and cries. Monday I started to feel the tear in the fabric of our world, as our collective grief tore away at our barriers, as those 49 souls left this earth long before they were supposed to. This Work is so hard, but bearing witness is necessary. I see you. I hear you. I hold this space for you. Take my hand and we will step across together.

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But now, I am exhausted. Exhausted from carrying the grief of my sister for three months; feeling like I am ultimately carrying it alone. Combined with multiple layers of family and home based issues, and I feel sick. Broken. Questioning whether I can go on, whether it is even worth trying. Knowing that I can’t always be the strong one and that I’ve broken and put myself back together many times.

So I don’t know what’s next. We’ll see what the coming weeks and months bring, even if I am afraid to look.

And I want to be very clear that this is not a cry for help, nor do I want any advice or “well intentioned helpful comments.”  I am sharing this because I believe in the power of sharing our process and vulnerability with each other. If this resonates with your experience, I would love to hear about it. If you would like to offer love and support, I will gladly accept, but “prayers” don’t get us very far in the long run. And if something about this angers or upsets you, please take that to your own process to consider and do not share it with me. Thank you for respecting this.

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The First Loss

It was a week past Easter Sunday, a week that we had lived in the hospital, taking shifts from bedside to waiting room. Now the entire extended family crammed into the tiny room set aside for families to hold their tragedy, every hand clutching tissues or tiny Styrofoam cups of something warm, tasting tears. It must have been two dozen people, but the room was full to bursting with more than just physical bodies.

We were barely 19, my high school sweetheart and I. But here we were, deciding whether to remove his father from life support.

He had woken up on Easter Sunday with paralysis in one side of his face and arm. The day of resurrection, for this devoutly Christian family, was the last day anyone would see him rise. He’d been having some numbness in his arm, and was due to see a doctor the next day. Instead, his wife rushed him to the emergency room of the closest hospital – which, being in a poor ghetto, was also one of the most understaffed and under-equipped hospitals in the area.

He sat in the ER waiting room for hours before they finally admitted him. Hours, following the stroke. Hours which sealed his fate.

The first visit, he had some awareness of who we were. He reached with his fingers for his son’s hand, looked me in the eyes with a sad knowing plea.

The first seizure stole all that, and sent him to the tubes and the machines.

Mostly I remember the feel of the room, and the smell. It wasn’t a worldly smell – it was the smell of loss, of Death stalking near. Something that, once you recognize it, you can never forget. No hospital antiseptics can cover it up. No flower bouquets banish it.

I remember feeling so isolated and alone, with this huge family that I barely knew and had no clue how to be around. Extended family was foreign to me; something I’d never known and hadn’t really allowed myself to wish for. It seemed my only value was in the role of supportive girlfriend.

When we went home, I watched him seethe. I watched him eat his rage and pain, stuffing it deeper and deeper. I held my grief for his loss, and my loss. His father had always been so kind and accepting of me, as opposed to his devout mother who was at best wary of my presence. I cried alone in the closet so he wouldn’t know of my grief, and then would beg him to talk to me. I wrote. He drank. I eventually found acceptance. He found the silence of the eye of the storm.

Ultimately we never recovered. Our relationship ended 8 years later – many years later than it should have.

We don’t talk about this, in our culture. How do you bury a parent when you are barely an adult yourself? How do you cope, looking down the long hallway of adulthood, mourning the milestones that aren’t even here yet, that they won’t be at either? How do you carry the burden of grief on shoulders that have barely held life? How do you say goodbye when you can’t even accept that they are gone? How do you fill shoes that were never meant to be yours?

How do we hold each other in our grief?

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Photo by S. Nagakyrie

Aurora Silencis

It seems appropriate that we are sitting beneath a dark night, at the threshold of the cultural new year, just after a powerful solar flare has touched the earth, casting luminescent reflections over us. An unseen, unstoppable force, difficult to comprehend, yet unable to be ignored – the fear of it cast away beneath a thousand colors.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this year. Plucking the threads and watching where they reverberate, what resonance sings forth in its own dazzling display. This year has been fraught with unseen, unstoppable forces – knowable through the display they leave behind.

For years now, we’ve been in what Byron Ballard calls Tower Time. But my entire life, I have known and feared the Something. That something that is great change. That something that is going to require sacrifice, from me, from all of us.

But this year has been the first year I have felt a truly deep sense of potential. I don’t use the word hope – it is too sweet, too forgiving, too blind. But potential – there is power there, and it requires us to claim our power and participate in its realization.

Have you felt it too? The power throbbing just below the surface? In my more whimsical moments, I see it like a lava lamp, a single smooth bubble separating from the mass, rising to the surface. In the ocean of our consciousness, the fluidity of our Universe, the power rests, warmed by the light of our will and awareness, it rises. But what we see is only a small part, a tiny bubble, rising from the darkness where the mass of power and potential rests.

In my darker, deeper moments, it is a force behind heavy gates, rattling, screaming, crying, to be released. It is a stream beneath the concrete, humming softly, desperate to be heard. It is roots reaching into dry soil, with the sound of cracking earth. It is a cacophony of voices and beings, living and dead, human and divine, demanding that I pay attention, stand witness, fling open the gates.

It is here, in the dark silence between Winter Solstice and the ringing of the cultural new year, that I am most able to turn within, to reflect. The demands have grown quieter, the work finally turns more inward. For me, it is as if all have taken a step back behind the tattered veil, allowed Winter to envelope us, offering a moment shrouded in silence to refract back into myself.

This silence is precious. I hold dearly to it. It is within the silence that the potential reaches to me, where I can feel its heartbeat – the heartbeat that began all heartbeats.

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“Northern Lights” WikiCommons

Anyone that knows me, probably would not say that I am a big talker. They may say I am ‘mysterious’ or ‘hold my cards close to my chest’ or ‘shy’, it has even been said that I am ‘stand offish’. All of those things are true, at some time.

I am also someone who gives often too much of herself. Who, in striving to do my Work and make a difference in the world, forgets herself. This can be a positive state to be in for a time, but I have yet to learn how to maintain it without detriment. It is in the silence, held by my boundaries, that I remember myself.

I’ve been keeping silence about a lot of things over the last few weeks. I’ve held space for friends and loved ones, listened as there were new-but-the-same causes for grief in our communities, held a watchful eye on some of the more problematic members of our communities. But I have said little, I have shown my cards narely at all, I have held a boundary. And in this container, I have allowed the sediment to drop, the the waters to clear, and remembering to bubble up.

Writing this is allowing a single bubble to pop, allowing it release into the world. I seldom publish writings like this – writing that has simply flowed from my fingers, without second consideration or thought (or editing!). Typically, this would be tucked into the journal file. But it wanted to be released into the world. (And, though They are allowing me a little more space at this time of year, there are still requests for me to do things. So I do the things. 🙂 )

By the way, If you want to read more about the importance of holding silence, and the power of that container, I really encourage you to read Karina B. Heart’s book A Witch’s Book of Silence. It is without a doubt one of the best Craft books I have read in YEARS.