Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Year of Mourning

Young Man Mourning #1

originally uploaded by just.Luc (just.Censored).

What ever happened to the various traditions around mourning. In many cultures there is a mourning period that usually extends out to a year. During that time the widows would primarily wear black to symbolized their grief. It was an outward symbol to the community of their loss, and of their new station in life. By witnessing this, others would automatically know that the individual was in mourning. I sometimes wish that this was still part of our tradition.

As I returned to work many people knew of my loss. Many extended their condolences, yet others probably wondered why they hadn't seen me around the office for several months. Also, when out shopping, or participating in day to day life, I often feel like I am walking around with a dark cloud over me. A dark cloud that only I can see. Other's may wonder why I look so down, hey, "did someone die?" Well, yes, someone did die.

For awhile I was wearing Michael's wedding ring, but it kept slipping off my finger, as his hands were bigger than mine. There are times that I would like people to know that I have been through such a significant trauma. I would like to be asked once in awhile about Michael. I don't want him to just fade away. I want people to notice that I wear a wedding ring. I want to be able to tell them of what a godsend he was, and how my life is forever changed because of him. I want people to see that I am different because he is gone.

As I move about my day I feel changed, sad, lost and empty. There is a sense of disinterest in everything I do. When I look at my reflection in the mirror, I see sorrow in the dark circles around my eyes. I see less animation in my facial expressions. I feel less strength in my posture. There is no spring in my step.

Are each of these adequate indicators to the outside world that I am in mourning? I doubt it. In fact, I believe most of these indicators go unnoticed. I suppose I could wear all black, yet in San Francisco it would be considered either urban chic, or middle age goth.

As you may have noticed in my recent pictures I do have my tattoos. They are an outward symbol of my grief. They are a committed symbol of my grief. My most recent, and largest tattoo is the Tree of Life. This was done less than two weeks after Michael's death. I have tattoos of my most important commitments in life. I have tattoos with symbols, and names, of each of my children. I have a tattoo that is the symbol of "My Body" to remind me to take care of this vessel. I have a mixed tattoo of my birth month in the Mayan Calendar, with am Aztec design overlay. This is to remind me of my ancestral history. I have my lotus flower and symbol of hope, complete with Michael's initials which I got a couple of Valentine's Days ago.

My Tree of Life was done on a large scale as a visual commitment to growing through this grieving process. The Tree of Life has roots that go deep underground, where life can get dark and murky. Yet it's branches can reach high up to the heavens. And is it only in bitter waters can we find that the Tree of Life is of value to us. In bitter times faith will spring eternal. I was raised to believe this. And even though I am too deep into the bitterness of life at this time, I will remain steadfast in my commitment to make this a time of faith and growth.

Above my Tree of Life is a beautiful bird, which has just fed off the tree, and is flying high into the heavens. The bird flies up high into the sky without a second thought, for he now understands his destiny. He is headed off to somewhere bigger, and better, than this world. His faith is no longer being tested, for he now knows his truth.

My experiences are permanently drawn on my body. I wear them proudly. On my back I wear these symbols of love and mourning. They tell the story of these past few years, and are an outward sign that I am forever changed. I am in mourning.

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