There is something so primal about this grief.
It oozes from my cells. It is called forth without a thought, without a story in the mind to trigger the emotion that create the physical response of weeping. It just comes out of me, out of nowhere sometimes. Just being in this body that conceived and grew and labored and birthed him. This body that bled for him, that leaks milk for him, that sags from him. He is in my cells, my cells in his and so it is for his absence, as well. Holes left in otherwise functioning viscera. Essential parts of me gone: mitochondria and DNA and stardust. My son. Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, ashes to ashes.
This grief brings out the most irrational thoughts, the mind making up ways to fix it, to make it different. Someone was driving me to the hospital while he was still alive and I thought, “If we never moved back here. If we’d just stayed in San Francisco, this never would have happened.” I have stood, naked in the shower, begging a God I hardly believe in, to give him back to me. “Please. Please.”, I whisper into the darkness, into the steam, into the deaf nothingness.
By the pulling forth of my grief from cells, the sobs unaccompanied by thoughts, I recognize my animal nature in all of this. My massage therapist tells me of grieving animals: elephants, dolphins, monkeys, who won’t leave their dead baby until the last minute, who nudge the body, who pace and moan, who become visibly depressed. A farmer friend tells me of being in the field with her daughter, moved to tears by the cries of the mother goat who lost her baby in birth. I remember the redwood trees who grow in circles from the body of the dead “mother” tree. The whole world mourns. Not just me. Not just my species. Not even just my classification. They are like me and I am like them.
I am an animal and the irrational, ridiculous mind wants to be a different animal. A polar bear, a beetle , a spider, a shark, a hamster. These animals who care so little, that they eat their own young. I don’t want to be the mourning animal. I want to be the callous, survival of the fittest, cycle of life, cold-cruel-world animal. I want to have an understanding that living things live and die without reason or purpose, that some are not fit for this world, that there is an evolutionary advantge to not caring, so much so that the benefit of the child’s death outweighs its life. I want to know this in my bones as biological and natural facts. Cold, hard truth that is not right or wrong but just is. I want a scientific understanding, a biological knowing so that I can just continue, so that I can just accept my place in the natural world. I want to be a different animal.