You inhabit the land of grief. You can’t run away from it, back away from it, ignore it. You can’t shroud it in euphemisms – “pass away” – when someone has died. They’ve died. They’re gone. Trying to make it sound easier, softer, gentler, does nothing. In fact, whenever I hear that phrase my body stiffens and I want to scream.
My mother did not pass away. My infant son did not pass away. They did not “pass.” They died. Call it what it is. Run into it and face it down. It’s the only way to work through it.
“The Still Point of the Turning World” is Emily Rapp’s meditation on grief. Her infant son, Ronan, was diagnosed with the always-fatal Tay-Sachs disease in the first months of his life, even after she had had the requisite genetic tests.
Rapp is sad. She is angry. She is full of questions, both spiritual and grounded. She uses words to process and delve and deny and question. She paints descriptions of her son’s first and only full year of life – of his body, of his eyes, of her pain and her husband’s pain watching him regress.
She wonders about the hierarchy of grief. Who is more entitled to be sad? Who has experienced more pain? Those of us who have wandered in these hills understand these questions. My second son died when he was five days old, after a troubled pregnancy and five days of hope and wonder. I grieve his loss, and will to the end of my days.