Well, this little blog project, ‘In the Name of Rafa,’ just turned one. It’s hard to believe. Throughout these twelve months, I have done my very best to share thoughts, experiences and feelings boldly and humbly from the heart. Many things have happened: deaths and births, travels, workshops… and all kinds of feelings from love to exhaustion, from rage to elation, with the constant presence of deep sadness and deep gratitude; life’s two palms gently against one another in reverence.
I’m just back from South America, where I co-hosted my first grief workshop for parents whose children have died. Because I promoted the workshop amongst all of my networks in the region, especially to mothers who I knew had had miscarriages or stillbirths, many people asked me how it went. Honestly, it was magical. Not so much the workshop itself, but the process of planning this experience and particularly the days leading up to it that I spent with my doula, Julieta.
Well, life is still just a fucking roller coaster, ain’t it? In any given moment I might be feeling prfound gratitude for the innumerable gifts that Rafa gave us all with his fleeting existence, and the next I’m crying in an airport, surrounded by toddlers. One afternoon I may be indignant and angry about all I’ve ‘been through’ this past year and the next I find myself in a lethargic, depressive state, asking: why I am still here? Through it all, one constant that I keep discovering is the tendency to compare and measure. I’m quite curious about the persistent and perseverant nature of comparisons: why do they appear as part of my daily thinking?
I heard that some of my friends have been struggling with the last piece I posted here. That makes sense. People were not really sure “what to do” with what I shared. I know that my families of origin and choice want to offer me their consolation and support. And I said I didn’t want to talk about it. That I didn’t want to be hugged. And I didn’t. I was fucking pissed when I wrote all that. I’m still angry. AND, that was a moment. It has come and it has passed. I am somewhere different now. Where that is, I’m not really sure. But I’m ready to talk about it… a little.
Mostly these days, I’m doing badly. I’m not sharing this fact to elicit pity. In fact, it’s one of the things I least desire. Nor am I seeking advice on how to make it “through” this moment, nor how to fix/heal/find closure. It’s simply how I am.
For some months this fall, I felt a lot of tension and anxiety about how to navigate my relationship with the outside world following Rafael’s death. I’d say that some of my feeling badly now is still related to this: wondering how to reengage with the world, return to work, be with other people. But something has changed, settled down a little. Maybe I’m aware that other people aren’t thinking so much about how I am or feeling as uncomfortable around me because nearly five months have passed. (Note: I recognize that many ideas I have about other people and the external world-at-large are fantasies and projections that most likely exist only in my head.)
A few days ago, we returned home from the YES! Jam, a gathering here in Mexico that some friends and I began dreaming up before Rafael was even conceived. The Jam was an important milestone in my healing process since the plan had originally been to participate as a family. It was supposed to have been Rafa’s first encuentro with people from his extended global family of friends and non-blood siblings. The time was good and hard. There’s some gratification that comes with simply completing the gathering. This completion helps me to remember that time is passing, that I am still alive and moving forward. There is the lingering sadness that was more alive (or had more room) during the time we were together; our togetherness somehow made Rafa’s absence more present. There are questions about how much I should continue to self-identify first and foremost as a bereaved mother, asking myself if that is healthy or useful. There was space for anger (which I have struggled with letting out). There was this beautiful little one-year-old, Andino. There was also a fuck-ton of laughter and fun and joy! I felt bathed in the light of the community: the light of each person and the glow of our collective power.