If you have not had a chance to read anything written by Emily Rapp, I hope that you are inspired to do so after reading this tidbit.
The world can be a horrible place at times, but we don’t have to participate in this, we don’t have to harden our hearts as we’re taught and told to do, in order to survive or be sexy or attractive lovers or perfect parents or interesting people. We do not have to make ourselves into mysterious gifts, waiting to be chosen or read or understood by those who will earn us, unwrap our secrets, and then what? We can be something more authentic, and speak from a different place, a different planet. This is why I like being a writer, because what it demands is both simple and incredibly hard. To be a human being. Does anyone even know what that means anymore? Why don’t we allow for mess? Why are we so afraid of it? What do we expect from the veils we pull down over our eyes, our minds, our hearts? How can we possibly connect if we never let people see what we truly are and what it would take to make us free? Now, when I can’t fake a single emotion I don’t feel (or at least not for long), I wonder how I’ve lived this long being any other way. Maybe it’s that I haven’t really been living, and that now I am like Adam, like Eve, my feet still wet from being newly created, awkwardly learning how to walk on dry land.
For the full article, go here. I find her writing to be beautiful and her words poignant, as she lives through a reality that seems truly gut wrenching. Her toddler has Tay-Sachs Disease and will probably die within the next year or so. To say she is “inspirational” seems cliché and inadequate, though I feel it is fair to say that the act of writing and the subject she writes about are admirable, humbling.
It almost goes without saying that the subject of death and loss is a topic which our culture often likes to dodge, even outright deny, and try to mask in increasingly bizzarre, vulgar ways (don’t get me started on plastic surgery, Botox, Joan Rivers’ face…. Another time.) and yet I am drawn to read about it and have a certain fascination with the topic, as I find it to be comforting rather than simply terrifying or macabre. We all have an interest in it, whether we choose to accept it or not; whether we choose to explore it or not.
I realize also that I only know a small slice of the pain one faces with the loss of a loved one. While being able to listen and to read and to try one’s heartfelt darndest to understand seems like a worthy education of a kind, I also recognize that there is probably very little preparation one can actively and actually make for the realities of loss. I have only observed second-hand that it seems to be a kind of undoing or rather an unwrapping of something which one cannot fully comprehend or anticipate until one is actually in it. There is a wonderful quote from Joan Didion about how we imagine ourselves in grief and how reality may not quite match up.
Death is something which we all must face in one or several forms at some point in the course of being. I hope that I can understand it just a little bit more, and offer empathy and compassion, a kindness at the very least, and that others can offer me the same some day. People tell me grief is lonely. I imagine death ultimately must be too.