the abyss

the abyss

For my bereaved friends as they approach Mother’s Day…

by Kathryn Lodato

“The Grieving Garden”

The one true thing I would share is not an easy thing. It’s not warm comfort. But for me, coming to realize this truth is, nonetheless, a comfort. A comfort that’s hard and heavy, but bright and solid. It is this: the breathtaking, staggering, intensity of the pain, the shattering, the unbelievable quality of knowing that my child is gone, it doesn’t go away. In some ways it doesn’t even diminish. For me, as I write this, it’s been nine-and-a-half years. Nine-and-a-half years since I saw Nick, heard his voice, had his living presence in my life. That searing sense of the full realization of his death I call the abyss. I can feel it, I know that it’s always in me.

The difference, and it’s a huge difference, that time and grieving have given me is that I live the great bulk of my life at a safe distance from the edge of that abyss. Those early months, and even years, I often felt that I was right on the edge of it. Living so near to that abyss left very little room in my life or my heart for anything else. And I truly didn’t think that I would survive if I fell in. Now, while it’s always in my peripheral vision, my field of awareness, I’m usually not at the edge. But I can go there. Sometimes I’m swept there unexpectedly. Other times, on anniversaries or simply on a quiet Friday afternoon, I can choose to go there and feel that primal grief, that bottomless sorrow. But here’s why it’s a comfort, why I wouldn’t change this, why I wouldn’t remove that abyss from my soul, even if I could: I know, as deeply as I’ll ever know anything, that I will never forget Nick. I know that his importance in my life will never diminish, that his life and his death will never be just something that happened in the past. It is a bargain I gladly make. For me, to hold his life forever alive in me means that I must also hold his death forever alive in me. I hold it all: the gift of him, the miracle of his life and his being, and the abyss. And together, the have formed something more, something ineffable greater awareness of the beauty of life. I have had to grow my heart to be able to hold it all, to be able not only to go on living, but to go on living well. It is hard, but I owe it to Nick, so I do it.

“I hold it all: the gift of him, the miracle of his life and his being, and the abyss.”