A Tender Illustrated French Meditation on Loss and Healing – The Marginalian

I know only three side doors to the Cathedral of Consciousness, through which we can bypass a bewildered mind to enter the heart of the most unfathomable, devastating, and universal human experiences, and emerge a little more: poetry, children’s books, and Bach.

No human experience is more shattering than the disappearance of a loved one in the “infinite drift,” in Emily Dickinson’s harrowing phrase—especially parents, and especially if one is still a child when the hand of unwise chance strikes.

French author Charlotte Mondlik The side door swings into the gate of tenderness and healing the scar (a public library), painted by one of my favorite comic book artists – Olivier Taleck, who also painted the wonderful pictures The big wolf and the little wolf.

A century after Rilke wrote that “Death is our friend precisely because it leads us into the ultimate and emotional presence with all that is here, and that is natural, and that is love,” the story radiates a subtle and sensitive reminder that love, though outwardly existing things may consist of Atoms, an internal abstraction that is entirely present in our hearts, a figment of our consciousness. Thus, in the deepest sense, our loved ones – living and dead – are figments of our love, existing only in relation to our awareness of them.

My mother died this morning.
It wasn’t really this morning.
My father said she died during the night,
But I slept during the night.
For me, she died this morning.

When a young child and his parent face the initial shock of incomprehension, we see how a difficult self-issue fades, slackens, and seems to fade in the wake of loss.

When I woke up this morning, everything was calm. I couldn’t smell the coffee or hear the radio. I went down, and my father said, “Is that you, my dear?”

I thought that was a silly question, because unlike my mom, who was too sick to get out of bed anymore, and my dad, who was asking the question, I was the only one in the house.

I said, “No, no, it’s not me,” which I thought was very funny, but then I noticed my dad wasn’t laughing. He smiled a very small smile, and said, “It’s over.” I pretended I didn’t understand.

After moving through the initial wave of rage in the universe—the kind of rage that, if not given the feeling space it requires fully and not properly integrated, can coalesce into the marrow of existence as a lifetime of pent-up anger in life—the boy takes it upon himself to He heals his father’s grief.

He wouldn’t be able to manage without it.
Fortunately, I’m still here, and I can explain everything to my dad.
I told him, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”
And I cried a little because I didn’t really know how to take care of my dad who was so abandoned.
I can tell he was crying too –
It looked like a towel, all wrinkled and wet.
I don’t like seeing my dad cry.

The days go by, the nights go by. The boy finds himself unable to sleep. Stomach pain biting. His inability to take care of his father nibbles on him.

Careful not to forget his mother, he plugs his ears to keep her voice from fading, and closes all the windows to prevent her scent from leaving.

Dad yells at me because it’s summer, because it’s so hot, and because he doesn’t know how to talk to me anymore.
I think it pains him to look at me because I have my mother’s eyes.

One day, while running in the park, he injured his knee and remembers how, whenever he was injured, his mother would hold him in her arms, telling him it was just a scratch, telling him he was too strong for anything to hurt him and the pain would go away. Suddenly, there in the garden her knee is bloodied, her voice returns.

Pained to hear it again, he waits for a little crust to form, then scratches it again, trying not to cry, trying to summon his mother’s voice. Scabies becomes his secret way of keeping her alive – an embodied memory, a testament to the observation by poet Megan O’Rourke, at the loss of her mother, that “the people we love most become a physical part of us, rooted in our synapses, in the pathways in which memories are created.”

Soon, the grandmother – the mother of his mother – will arrive. He worries that he now has two “sad people” to look after while he nurses his scabies.

Grandma moves home in a silent stupor, “as if she was searching for something or someone,” Nick’s remark embodies how the central paradox of loss: how when a loved one dies, “their sudden absence can become a frantic commentary on that which remains.” …a superlative and luminous presence.”

When Grandma swings the windows wide open to cool off the heat, the little one finally lets out the feelings he’s been numbing through the tender illusion of caring for adults.

This is too much for me. I scream and cry and scream. “No! Don’t open the windows! My mom will be gone forever…” He fell and tears were flowing non-stop, there was nothing I could do and I was so tired.

But just as he was worried that his grandmother would think him crazy, she walked over and put her hand and then his little hand on his heart.

She says, “It’s there, in your heart, and it’s not going anywhere.”

It helps, this simple gesture that connects the body to the soul.

And soon the little boy runs all over to feel his heart beating.

Grandma finally leaves. As the days roll on the horizon—time out of time when loss drives us—he starts to smell coffee again downstairs and hear radio forecasts of nice weather.

shouts “This is me!” From the top of the stairs, only to make his father smile, and his father smile, and open his arm, his little son runs towards them, feeling his heart beating.

One night, in bed under the covers, he wipes the affected knee with his finger and the skin feels smooth and fresh. He sits down to take a look, and discovers that the crust is gone, turning into a scar without him noticing.

For a second I think I might cry, but I don’t.

I lie on my back, my hands on my chest. My heart beats softly and peacefully, and it calms me to sleep.

compliment the scar – A beautiful addition to my sophisticated bookcase of extraordinary picture books about understanding loss – with soul mates Cry my heart but never break.

If you’re lucky enough to be an adult when you lose your parents – and lest we forget, death is a symbol of life’s luck – complement it with Mary Gaitskell’s great advice on how to move forward in life when your parents die, then revisit magic chest A whimsical vintage children’s book for adults about life, death, and how to be more alive each day.

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