Writer Charlotte Bacon describes her pilgrimage to a Bhutanese temple:
[T]his was the place to release the grief that had come with the obstetric misery that dogged my late 30s. We had our son with ease when I was almost 35. But when we were ready for another baby three years later, my aging body proved less willing.
One loss followed another, and then another, the last releasing a baby at five months. The sadness in the wake of what felt like my failure was numbing. It is not the same as losing a child you’ve embraced and named, no. But it was hard and dark and drove me toward choices I thought I would never make.
Finally, when I was 41, through a stark amalgam of science, chilly doctors, my own steely drive and who knows what measure of luck, my daughter arrived, strong, sweet and fully loved. When she was born, I thought the spell of harshness was over. She had redeemed those losses. They were grieved and gone and I could lose myself instead in her. And I did.
But there in Chimi, wrapped in the balmy reek of incense, I realized that the sadness I thought I had dismissed was still at work in me. Grief has its own rate of decay, and it rarely coincides with when we think it ought to go. Each baby’s shadow was still there, wrapped like a length of silver wire around bone, as close and deep and glinting as that.
In Chimi I was able to grasp the end of each wire, unwind it and feel the fragments of life or soul that were still in me splinter, dissolve and depart. Where? I don’t know. Somewhere else. Beyond me.
As they left, I wished them well, I said goodbye. With each ending came a new sense of peace and clarity and fullness. The sadness had had such a quiet grasp on me.
Now, in its wake, there was room for a bloom of gratitude, not only for being the mother of my particular children, embodied, here and healthy, but for being allowed to be a vessel for life, to be the channel through which more life had come, on its own terms, for its own reasons.
Read the full essay here.