Ann Rice wrote about Vampires, monsters condemned to darkness, immortal creatures with strangely human qualities, beset with loneliness. Her fictional demons came to life following the tragic death of her daughter when she “looked around and realized [she] was nobody and nothing. [She] wasn’t even a mother anymore.” Her Vampires personified grief, beasts forced to live Undead and shuffle through darkness waiting for dawn so they could finally sleep. But sleep is not escape, it’s delay and fresh awareness that living Undead is, after all still living.
“The trick is not to mind it, to live anyway, despite the pain,” Grief speaks to me. (Hey, if Rice can talk to Vampires…)
Tough, I mind it. I mind it. I’ve not learned “the trick.”
“Practice being still.” Grief closes her eyes.
Quiet my mind. Okay. Breathe. Focus. Meditate.
I like the idea of meditation the seduction of silence but my “OM’s” feel forced and my mind still races. I close my eyes and wonder if anyone still sees me? Is this how Vampires feel when they shut the lids to their coffins–trapped between worlds, unable to leave, left to experience the rest of their lives Undead?
“I’m not doing this right,” I tell Grief. “I don’t feel any better.”
“Give it time,” she says.
“The “time heals all wounds” platitude?” That’s it? I want a refund.
“Try silence in intervals. Five minutes at a time. Practice will make you stronger.”
Notice Grief didn’t say “strong” she said “stronger.” I don’t feel strong. I feel like a whisper, like for the first time my outside matches my inside.
“This is how I see you,” a client once sent me a charcoal drawing of a Warrior Princess. I actually looked up the definition: Warrior, “a brave fighter.” Princess, “a woman of high rank in her profession.” Recently, at a writing event featuring one of my books, a stranger remarked that I resembled “an Ice Princess.” The Warrior part of me must have finally hardened.
“You’re panicking,” Grief says.
Of course I’m panicking. I don’t like this new Being I’ve become. I don’t accept this living Undead as an Ice Princess. “Practice being still.”
Breathe. OM. Breathe. OM. Nothing is happening. I’m feeling nothing. Geez, I can’t even breathe right. How did I do this before…before I lost my child? Think calm thoughts, like the Ocean, yes! Somewhere in the Cooke Islands, beautiful crystal blue, with slight froth. Wait, don’t Tsunamis happen in the Cooke Islands? This is doing nothing for me.
“Sometimes doing nothing is doing something.” So wise that Grief. Maybe I don’t need to fix this today, tomorrow. Maybe I just need to be. I just need to be in my pain, to be this right now, whatever this >is. Today, instead of sitting with my legs crossed, eyes closed, pretending to be still, I hiked into the Red Rocks and practiced silence for thirty minutes. I just listened. Wind shivered through the pine tops and when I looked up, it was like hearing the world for the first time.