Continuing on birth and death,here is the opening paragraph to a powerful post about miscarriage and afterward:
I am and am not a mother. I once believed motherhood to be a concrete state of being heralded by the birth of a child who would grow under my guidance and eventually move into the world on their own. I see now that the situation is more complicated than that. I see that motherhood is a state of mind rather than a biologically determined reality. Motherhood happens even when there is no baby to hold. I wish I didn’t know this, because the route to knowledge was rending and recovery is slow.
It's stories like this that tell me it's best to hang awhile with questions like "What is birth and death?" instead of grabbing for answers. I feel sad with along with the author, Andrea, but also happy for her because she seems to have tapped into a place beyond that which requires specific forms, like a baby. What a difficult learning though!
I've been noticing lately that a sense of having ease with the heart/mind's wrestling with the big questions of life. That thoughts and no thought can co-exist just fine. And that even intense body sensations or feelings that may or may not be connected with thoughts can also exist in the same space.
I should have been safely out of my third trimester by now, but instead I feel hollow and deeply sad. I was a mother for just over 10 weeks but my baby is gone and I have no way to prove that I once held a life within my body. And while my arms remain empty for the time being the change has been irrevocable. I was a mother for 10 weeks and I will remain a mother in some way, even if I never manage to bring a child into the world. It was the dream for the future that made me a mother, the hope and love for my unborn child. Nothing can take that away, not even death.
She's doing this work as well. I feel a profound respect for her, being able to hang with the pain and the ambiguity, and to offer others a glimpse into the process of working with it all. It's not just about acceptance, although acceptance of what is, breath by breath, is essential. I think we have to come to love not only the questions, and the often simple, beautiful answers our spiritual traditions offer, but also the flopping about, the intellectual curiosity, and the flailing in grief and bitterness.
There's room for it all.