September 2, 2009

Lest I have led my readers to believe that it is okay with me that my daughter died at fourteen – and my brother at ten, and my first love at thirteen, and close friends in their twenties, and my father in his early sixties — it is not okay.  This journey of transformation does not preclude a tremendous amount of suffering.  All I’m saying is that the pain isn’t the whole story.  In fact, it is the pain that breaks open our hearts, so that the grace has a place to pour in.  That’s all.

Today is one of those days.  It’s Jenny’s birthday.  She would have been twenty-two.  Birthdays can be one of the most poignant markers on the path of grief and loss, especially with regard to the death of a child.  Each birthday is a searing reminder that the person you loved is not growing a year older.  I would like to celebrate Jenny’s life on this day – and I do; I am by writing this blog as a tribute to her – but my heart has a mind of its own.

You would think I would have seen it coming.  But each new anniversary is a fresh adventure in grieving, an experience for which I cannot seem to prepare.  I feel like Bilbo Baggins, being swept out of The Shire before he knows it, without even having had the chance to pack his pocket-handkerchief!  Today the pain rushes in like a forest fire and reduces me to ash.  It blows my breath away.  It folds me to my knees.  And it renders me mute.

It turns out that within this silence, I find my connection to my daughter.  That mourning her this hard clears the debris of my busy little life and parts the veil that separates my soul from hers.  Ah, here you are, Jenny.  In the calm that follows the storm of tears.  Happy birthday, my love.

6 Responses to “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JENNY”

  1. Dearest Mirabai,
    My 15-year-old son plays video games in the next room, and my almost 13-year-old daughter comes in from the pool with her friend, and I sit here w/ a heart filled w/ compassion and heaviness for your love, light, pain and sorrow.
    I cannot imagine my children completing their cycle before me, as I couldn’t vision the sun dying or my next life, and yet, through your passion and overwhelming command of the process, am I awakened, alive, in both the seen and unseen, the here and departed.
    Many blessings, my new friend, and I send you the only thing I can truly share and that is our connection to all that is, and the well wishes and birthday greetings to Jenny, your angel.


  2. Judith Schiavone said

    Your expression is raw and unbridled of any signs of debris that would get in your way, Mirabai. You are one of the most beautiful, gifted spirits on this earth and your ability to share yourself with us is a true blessing.
    I read your poem for your daughter Jenny.. may it help in anyway to know that we are holding you as well on this day. Grief is the sort of entity that one needs to head for the center to go through.. outskirts will not do. You are a beautiful example of this act. I love you, Judith

  3. Dear Mirabai,

    Oh, my. I have been thinking of you lately and today of all days, I am finally getting back to your blog to have a second look. And it’s Jenny’s birthday… Your writing communicates the pain and the joy so beautifully. I appreciate the “It’s not ok” sentiment. That’s so important and yet difficult to convey. You’ve hit the nail on the head. Know that I am sending you love and healing.


  4. Here’s a little gift for you and all others who read this blog. I thought of you, Mirabai, as soon as I read this lovely poem, sent to me by a friend a few weeks ago.


    Praise What Comes

    Surprising as unplanned kisses, all you haven’t deserved
    of days and solitude, your body’s immoderate good health
    that lets you work in many kinds of weather.

    Praise talk with just about anyone. And quiet intervals,
    books that are your food and your hunger; nightfall and walks before sleep.

    Praising these for practice, perhaps
    you will come at last to praise grief and the wrongs
    you never intended. At the end there may be no answers
    and only a few very simple questions:

    Did I love,
    finish my task in the world? Learn at least one
    of the many names of God?

    At the intersections,
    the boundaries where one life began and another
    the jumping-off places between fear and
    possibility, at the ragged edges of pain,
    did I catch the smallest glimpse of the holy?

    ~ Jeanne Lohmann ~

  5. cathy said

    Starr What a blessing to have your ability to express yourself so beautifully and to touch those of us reading these beautiful words. Yes, anniversaries are so difficult but I agree that we must truly celebrate the life of our love ones, not matter how short. Things unfold as they should, unknown to us and our little lives.

  6. I just now discovered your writing after buying your excellent translation of The Interior Castle and wanted to thank you for your beautiful words here on this site. Your tribute to your daughter is touching and deeply stirring. You will be in my prayers.

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