From the inception of time, losing what is most precious has plagued the human imagination. William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s The First Mourning captures the horrific realization Adam and Eve experienced when discovering Abel’s body following his murder by Cain. It is impossible to understand the weight of such a cruel moment unless one is a parent. From the first breath to the last, a parent’s world is consumed with the love and joy, frustration and fear, hope and appreciation for her child. Words cannot properly express. So I shall not try. You parents know what I mean. Losing the one who should bury you ranks among the most hellish moments one can envision. If hell exists, it must include such loss.
This painting has riveted my attention for the past few months since discovering it on Wikimedia. I have one son whose life has wrought upheaval in mine – for the rest of my life. I cannot envision what losing him would mean. I am not going to try.
What captivates me about this moment in time is a much more introspective realization I’m terrified to face. I do not have to bury my son. I have a metaphorical funeral awaiting me or behind me. I’ll let you determine which. Perhaps this confession will be the first step in a proper burial. I can only hope for resurrection or infusion by another.
My loss cuts to the fabric of my being an editor at Burnside Writers. Recently, I shared with Betsy Zabel my Muse is in dire straits. Hell fire awaits, perhaps. Inspiration comes like a dainty, mythical creature, resting ever so gently upon my psyche. And then, she whimsically departs with a residue. I feel used, hollow and desperate. I cannot do this alone. It is her working that has brought me thus far. Could it be?
I need her to do this right now. But this piece is not hers. It is my own. For I have buried her. Or she buried me. I know not which. This is a plea for any other such spirits of revelation to alight upon me — even now.
But I see Bouguereau, and I have known the conclusion to my story. Enlightenment does not always bring light. Sometimes it is a recognition light has departed. Darkness reigns.
My life as a writer — full of its ecstatic delusion of success — lies limp in my lap. Surely this cannot die now? Surely it would accompany me to the grave? Surely there has to be more than this? What about the novels flowing from my finger tips? What about the websites, blogs, articles…? I feel the cold silence.
I gaze upon it with tear stained cheeks. And I am at a loss for words. I, too, grab my chest and look at my Muse. Her head turned down away from me. She has determined to grace her smooth skin upon the forehead of you my peers. She might be gracing you right now.
Upon taking the commission to edit for Burnside, I thought this would be a natural way to revive the Muse. To persuade her to be mine and mine alone. If such a generous, self-sacrificial act would not seduce her, then what am I to do? As I felt her presence less and less, the email came to help. My logic deduced this will win her back to me and I will be hers. She will be mine. Only mine.
Why share my sorrow? Why burden you with this tale of mourning? Because I see her working in your midst. You know my Muse and numerous others. I have been so revived by your work as poets and writers. I am seeing your Muses working ceaselessly. And, every once in a while I see my all to familiar Muse appear on your pieces. I am humbled to promote the many wonderful expressions of inspiration you so unselfishly share with us all. I sit Museless yet contented.
So my Muse has died, or I have died to her, and she has been reincarnated into countless other manifestations. I know the many arms, legs and faces that she takes and I can only say, “Let it be so.”
Burying my selfish ambitions I can see more clearly.
In losing we discover what is most precious.
In dying we can possibly discover new life.
On the death of my Muse, I anticipate.
I’m beside myself at her grave.
Let it be so.