I have not been quiet regarding my struggles with grief complicated by mental illness, but I am attempting to be more proactive and less reactive, which my writing has been. To prepare for this death anniversary, I spent time meditating on pleasant imagery. As an atheist, I struggle with afterlife imagery. I do not believe my mother or my brother can see me or are proud of me. I do not believe they are together in some place such as heaven, but oddly, I found myself imagining that very scenario a few days ago. Perhaps family and friends who are believers will attempt to tell me that my imagination is actually trying to convince me of a cosmic truth, but I ask for mercy. My atheism is a result of many years of research, contemplation, and severe emotional distress. This is not an open door for evangelizing, and in complete honesty, such efforts would cause me pain, which would result in anger and mistrust.
A few nights ago, I did 20 minutes of yoga then I laid in the corpse pose and slowed my breathing. I cried a bit and attempted to imagine a beach, but the beach turned into road. The road was long and my brother and my mother were walking towards each other from opposite ends. They both wept as they embraced. I let go of the image because it was too much, but I sought out poetry. For me, words have a way of comforting and producing other, perhaps easier, images. A friend who knows thousands of poems, both popular and obscure, assisted my search. I was clear about what I was searching for but will not share that here. Here are two favorites. There was a third, but it could be considered offensive, and I do not wish to offend.
Wanting Sumptuous Heavens
by Robert Bly
No one grumbles among the oyster clans,
And lobsters play their bone guitars all summer.
Only we, with our opposable thumbs, want
Heaven to be, and God to come, again.
There is no end to our grumbling; we want
Comfortable earth and sumptuous Heaven.
But the heron standing on one leg in the bogDrinks his dark rum all day, and is content.
“Hope” is the thing with feathers
By Emily Dickinson
"Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -
And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -
I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.