When the heart
Is cut or cracked or broken
Do not clutch it
Let the wound lie open
Let the wind
From the good old sea blow in
To bathe the wound with salt
Let a stray dog lick it
Let a bird lean in the hole and sing
A simple song like a tiny bell
And let it ring
Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel.
— Michael Leunig
A colleague lost his young cousin in a road accident. The boy was 19. He was at a friend’s home that evening, presumably intending to spend the night there. Around 2am or so (as my colleague told me), he woke up and left the house quietly without informing anyone. He got into his car and started driving towards home. The car crashed into a tree, and he died within minutes of the accident. He was a few minutes away from home.
So near, yet so far.
Most of us figure out a way (consciously or not) to deal with trauma. Probably it is the body’s mechanism of keeping itself alive. If we were to internalize every emotion, happy or not, that crossed our path, we would be unable to survive too long. Life would be intensely turbulent and discordant.
Distancing oneself from the actual incident helps. So I did just that, as I have been doing a lot these days.
But I couldn’t help thinking about the boy’s mother. No, I don’t think that this would be any easier on the father at all. (How could it ever be so? A father’s heart can be soft in all the right places too, just like a mother’s. My father exemplifies this for me.)
I imagined the pain she’d be living with… an open wound, like a mouth ulcer. Sometimes pain is so overwhelmingly intense that death (or unconsciousness) feels like a relief. But what if that was not a choice at all? The only alternative (not even an alternative, really – well, unless one considered suicide) is to live with this immense pain, day in and day out, every moment threatening to snuff out the very life force energy without actually doing so. It hurts so bad, my heart… It is a huge sensation, very physical and real and visceral. Oh, how do I get rid of this pain? It is killing me but just not yet. So I have to live, feeling this pain in every pore, every fiber of my being… Without being able to do a thing about it.
Words are utterly useless at this point.
But there is something that I can say, with complete sincerity and conviction, and that is: Everything changes. Not a single thing remains constant in this manifest universe. The pain that seems to sear our insides also changes. It is simply part of the process, the paradigm. Knowing the principle may provide some relief.