Kilimanjaro, Ketamine, and Crying
All of a sudden there was a crow. It was squawking loud, rough, painful “caw, caw, caw” sounds, vibrations that grated against something inside me. The angular shape of the bird was clear to my inner-eye, with its oily, black feathers hanging off its slightly-raised wings, wings raised repetitively by the pumping of its chest. That’s all there was, just this crow, and somewhere in the distance was Duncan’s body and the guttural cries that were emitting from the mouth of that body. It was as if I was somehow making these cries, but also as if they had a deep meaning that I could not understand. Somehow I had become the crow and the crow was saying what so badly needed to be said.
Then the birth began: the pushing through into the light; the hopeful escape from safe confines of the womb, an escape into space, a place where I could spread my wings, a stage filled with potential. It was not only a human birth; it felt like the birth of a cosmos; perhaps it was an archetypal birth.
But I would never be one with my mother again. I would never feel her heart so close to mine. My birth could not be felt as anything but rejection, because it literally was, even though it was for my own good. In some way or another, I imagine that all births are traumatic, that all births represent loss.
I’m trying to conjure up a story about why the ugly birdsong transitioned into the wailing of a newborn child, how that process led to my own birth. I know that I was overcome with grief, inconsolable grief: grief that could not be comforted, ever, by anyone, not even by my mother.
The final acknowledgement, after forty-six years, of the presence of this primordial pain threw my body into a shaking fit of tears, wringing moisture from my core like a dirty dishrag. Somewhere in the distance, I felt Cindy’s hands on my feet, squeezing my toes, letting me know that she was there.
My mother loved me, and she still loves me; and I love my mother. Hi Mum. I know you did your best. I know you tried to be the best mother you could. I know your heart was in the right place. But there were also so many ways that you and Dad simply couldn’t give me what I needed. Maybe it’s like this for all kids; I don’t want to single you…