blog of missing
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In all the scenarios I’ve ever imagined, never once did I think of Stephen King’s dystopian vision as a possibility of what Jake could endure. At this point I skitter like a rock across a lake over thoughts of where Jake might be. It’s an unbearable lightness of being. I am unbearably light.
I had to look the book (The Unbearable Lightness of Being) up to understand why my brain went there. The book’s take is that to be light means you accept that life lacks ultimate meaning, that it is best to simply live for momentary beauty.
Despair tempts one to think that.
I rabbit-trailed to Parmenides’ poem, and found this:
Come now, I will tell thee—and do thou hearken to my saying and carry it away—the only two ways of search that can be thought of. The first, namely, that It is, and that it is impossible for it not to be, is the way of belief, for truth is its companion. The other, namely, that It is not, and that it must needs not be,—that, I tell thee, is a path that none can learn of at all. For thou canst not know what is not—that is impossible—nor utter it; for it is the same thing that can be thought and that can be. R. P. 114.
Jake is lost to me. It is. It is. And it’s impossible for it not to be. That is the way of my search.
COVID-19 seems impossibly large to me. I’m paralyzed by dread, thankful for self-isolation, too scattered to do what I love.
I am now caretaker of a nursing cat I never saw before four days ago or so. She leapt on my porch with a yowly meow and did not shut up till I fed her. I’m a natural cat magnet and try to avoid connecting with neighborhood cats but this one is relentless, and it was only today that I discovered why. I don’t know where her kittens are, and I’m torn between different ideas of responsibility here. My most basic one is feed the mama.
She has two purple collars and is unafraid of human contact. I suspect she is a casualty of the fear that the virus is spread by cats. She’s also a patchy calico–mostly white with some oops-puddles of mottled color on her coat. And she is loud. And if my front door is open, hello new cat.
My Dinah shows no sign of intruder-trauma probably because the new one is promptly led out with cat food. One day at a time is all I can do. I wonder if many are in this space right now. The virus is a new wrinkle for all of us.
In Einstein’s Dreams, Alan Lightman describes a world in which time flows more slowly the farther you are from the center of the earth. People frantic to slow the aging process move to the mountains, only venturing to the valleys for urgent business. Those who live in the high mountains are snobby and insubstantial and live on gossamer food, and eventually become old and bony.
Lightness of being–avoiding attachment to anything because nothing has meaning–that’s what is unbearable.
Viktor Frankl, whose wisdom I frequently draw upon because he bore the unbearable, too, claims that “meaning [comes] from three possible sources: purposeful work, love, and courage in the face of difficulty. ” –from the Brain Pickings site by Maria Popova. If you feel despair, check this link for some perspective.
One day at a time is all anyone can do.
In a month and a half it will be my birthday and the anniversary of Jake’s disappearance. Three years. 1,095 days. No sign of him, still.
I often think about his last text to me, in which he said, Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.
The text is saved on a phone I don’t use any more, along with his other messages from the months before. I don’t turn the phone on any more for fear of accidentally deleting anything.
The last few sets of skeletal remains that were found have been dismissed as not being his, and I no longer haunt the NamUs website for clues because it takes me too long to recover.
I still have days I think he is probably dead, but I now wrestle with the likelihood that he is missing on purpose. If he is safe, I can have peace with that. Sons leave their mothers as a natural rite. We never like it, we always mourn, even when they have only moved a few blocks away.
Motherhood is mourning. For me, even in the happy parts, even when I know I’m failing forward. My friend, Natashia, told me that we must give up the hope that we could ever change the past in order to truly move on, to let go, to forgive oneself or others. I harbor the hope of time-travel, apparently.
Some days I have my own secret snow muffling the outside world. Maybe most days. I’m living with a permanent open wound that somehow is not getting infected, or if it is, it’s invisible to me. It hurts all the time, and I am thankful to hear from those who wonder where Jake is.
This passage from Literary Trauma resonates with me: “…psychoanalysis believes,” Deborah M. Horvitz writes, “that crucial to recovering from an experience of trauma is the capacity and willingness to incorporate that traumatic event inside one’s self as an indispensable piece of personal history and identity. Since, in the fiction in this study [Literary Trauma], narrative is inextricably entwined with memory and the process of remembering, the greater one’s ability to “make story” out of trauma, which is defined differently for each protagonist, the more likely s/he is to regain her or his life after that trauma” (6).
We survive by telling the story because we are the story. Not to tell the story is to brick ourselves into an airless box. We suffocate and no one knows. To tell the story is to make people uncomfortable and helpless, caught like flopping fish in a net because, no, they’re not getting out. You can’t get out; no one can, no matter whose pain it is.
Pema Chodron says that facing this is what will help make the world a better place. She writes:
What produces a genuine person is being open to not feeling okay.
“What produces a genuine person, I realized, is being open to not feeling okay. It means to be open to everything — to all the horrors as well as the beauties of life, to the whole extraordinary variety of life. I began to realize that this whole mess the human race is in—the fact that we don’t take care of the planet and we don’t take care of each other, the wars, the hatred, the fundamentalism — all actually come from running away. Individually, collectively, we are trying to avoid feeling bad about ourselves.”