back to shore

Jan 28, 2017

My friend is missing. She calls me her best friend, but placing loved ones into hierarchical categories is a complication I haven’t endorsed for awhile. Now that she’s missing I want to say-yell-scream, “Yes, she is my best friend,” as if my acceptance were payment for the transgression of denial, and her return, my reward.

But it doesn’t work like that. The universe doesn’t dole out cookies for good behavior.

She’s been missing for five days.

My grief defies attempts to corral it behind the boards and slats of sentences. My grief is a rage storm punctuated by profanity that abates into silent weeping before turning to stunned silence after the rage has burnt black my insides. The anger is oceans wide and fathoms deep, but the anger is just window dressing for the stepping stones of it: fear, betrayal, shock.

Doubt, confusion, suspicion, rejection.

Abandonment. Loss. Disappointment. Pain. Blame.

Finally there’s the anger, right behind the blame. Finally, I find the rage. I never skip a step, but sometimes I race through them and run to rage like a cub to her mother.

Rage is the roar of an uncertain heart. A heart spun quick and dropped like Alice through the rabbit hole. People say that rage is fire. The drive to solve a problem. Rage is what you feel when a boundary’s been overstepped.

No. Rage is what you feel when the floor’s dropped out from underneath you and you fall. That fall is terrifying. That fall is what happens when you expected the world to go one way, but it goes another instead. The fall is what happens when the world ends, or when the world says,

“I’m not what you think I am.”

You spin, you fall, and you feel the structure of your world tumbling down like straw. You feel yourself losing the treasures you have built up as you spiral, spiral down.

You feel what it’s like to suffer a little death.

When you fall, you know you are approaching the death of something, though you may not know quite what, and in your race to live, to preserve, you bark out orders of what to do to make the world look like it did before you fell so that you can “feel better.” You cling to vines and roots, demanding the surface drop down to meet you so that you can “feel better,” so that the surface will be under your feet instead of over your head and it will be like it was before.

But nothing can be like it was before.

How much of rage is resistance? How much of anger is protest?

It wasn’t supposed to go this way.

What way was it supposed to go?

Rage is the Mother holding her children close to protect her little hearts with her one big heart.

But Stillness is the Mother who holds her children close to whisper, “I have you. I know you’re scared. We’ll do it together, okay?”

I hear Her, and the fight flies from my body and the rage melts out of my eyes, making oceans around us. I worry about the mess I’m making, but She smiles and smoothes my hair and says, “I know where we are. I know the way Home.” She sets the handle of an oar in my hand, made smooth by the oceans of tears and the tight grip of the many others before she has guided to Shore.

“We go together,” she says, her strong hands wrapping the handle of the other oar. “We always go together.”

Always together.

Wherever my friend is, I know she is not alone. She is with Her. I feel the ground under my feet again.

Our blades dip beneath the water and we start rowing. I don’t know where we’re going and I don’t know the way, but there is One with me who does. No matter how many times I spiral up and spiral down, She will guide me back to the shore at center. She will be there–Stillness, Grace, Peace, Wisdom, Equanimity, Kindness, Nourishment, Strength, Patience, Faith, Generosity, Compassion, Eternality–

She will be there.
My friend will be there.

And we will be with Her.