23 May 2013

What death feels like when you are alive...

What death feels like when you are alive is big darkness, a hole so black that even sitting in a planetarium watching a movie about black holes isn't terrifying.

I am not talking about the kind of death where you imagine your own. That kind of death can seem welcoming, refreshing and even holy perhaps.

I am talking about the kind of death when your child dies, before you, making the world into a nonsensical one, twisting words and spitting them back at you in ways that never make sense again.

If I were to write her obituary again, it would say this:

Grace Susie Bain
died on May 29th, 2003
born on June 1st, 2003

And since that time, no language has ever made sense.

That's what death feels like. Language flipped onto its back, ripped out from underneath you so that cards arrive in the mail with sayings like:

"There are no words."
"I will be praying for you."
"God's will is hard to understand."

I don't know about you, but the God I know does not kill babies. The God I know when I cried out in the middle of the night at 3 am with blood all over my sheets, with a kind of silent scream so loud that my cry echoed through the hallways and into the night sky, falling deep into black silent holes, that God, that One that appeared in my hospital bed, He showed up with his hands, these large, gentle hands cupped together to hold me as I contemplated ripping out my IV, tearing out my eyes, jumping out of the three-story window. He just sat there on the bed with me, his hands holding onto my entire body as I felt a single tear fall from His eye, as I shook, my large belly filled with death and empty at the same time. He sat there and said nothing.

And I cursed the night sky, I cursed my failed body, I swore against the injustices of the world and I swore at God, the same one who ripped my father from me when I was five years old. And He just sat there bewildered with me while I screamed obscenities into my pillow and my husband and two-year-old daughter and five-year-old son all slept together wrapped up in a king-sized bed three miles from the hospital.

I do not know what death feels like to anyone else, but this death I felt, this kind of death is the kind that cracks open your heart, sucks out your soul and spits you back out spent and confused. And you stay like that for a very long time. A time so long that if someone were to have told me that, I might have jumped that night. But these are the kind of things you don't want to speak out loud.

There are no words for any kind of death. And still we try to write them. I try to write them.

So that every day, when I sit down to an empty page, the first word that appears in my head is death. Then love. Then grief.

And everything else that follows is something for which my hands are just a vessel.

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