I found something that I had a written after Tiger died but had since forgotten about. So it must have been in November of 2009. I was super into transforming and sculpting the immediate raw grief after we lost Tiger. After Will it was just complete shock… which informed me the second time.
I have a fascination with the Hindu gods and goddesses. I’m particularly interested in Durga, who rides a Tiger into battle, carrying 8 weapons in her 8 different hands. A wrathful goddess fighting for good. She is one of the three main, but ultimately multiple manifestations of Pavarti (mother of Ganesh, consort of Shiva).
So I am particularly interested in The Space Between life and death. I hadn’t ever considered it until I was in it. And so it goes…
I’ve sat down with Durga at various intervals throughout our shared existence. It is rare for us to be in the same space or even the same realm for that matter. So I took this unique opportunity to ask her and her manifestations some questions- related to motherhood, grief, the space between, her tools of battle and the edge of your world- over tiger-bone tea.
Pavarti the Seal (PS): I understand that this is an intense time for you. The nine-inch scar dripping down the center of your belly must carry quite a story. I wonder if you could share a bit about the space that you are in today? It has been a few months since you and your son decide to part?
Durga the Poet (DP): Well at the moment I am phosphorescent with this tea.. Am I glowing from inside? Yes, Tiger and I died…. -4 months 16 days and 2 hours ago- give or take. I believe that it was about this time of day, -4 months and 16 days since I was actually in the space between, waiting to come back to life. It’s a funny thing- this exactness for time. For the just-shy-of-three-years between our son Will’s death and Tiger’s conception I counted everything. If I have my serge today, I will ovulate in the next XX hours and then if the baby is conceived this month, the birth-day will be this date and Lucy will be this old and on and on. Then he was conceived around my birthday this year and there were more detailed dates- both the natural ones of pregnancy and the ones revolving around other battles within that creative time. And he died one a Saturday the 13th (as did Will) so I count backwards from that moment. What is interesting is that the counting doesn’t serve me at all. I’m not even interested. I suppose it serves to determine where others expect a wrathful goddess like me to be in her grieving. (Although that is highly variable between goddesses and gods, wrathful and peaceful). For me the time ‘since’ makes little difference. Grief- our grief- is a wily and sneaky and spiritual creature. Time actually is not the healer here.
PS: I’m interested in your referral to the ‘space between’ as if it is actually a location that one can visit. You touch on this space when you discuss thresholds, rites of passage, and empty churches. Can you tell us what this place is like?
DP: It’s frightening. And lonely. A relief. It holds everything and nothing. The memory of where you have been remains only as a perfume and it mixes with the nervous anticipation of where you are going. You are…not…as you know yourself. But there you are without the body that you love, without the voice that stands for you, without the warmth of the other who knows nothing of the space between. And yet, you are alive. So the short answer is No. I can’t tell you what it is like. You will have to find out for yourself. I can say this: It is not life or death that we are most afraid of- it is the space between. Interestingly, the environment is all water and you can swim there just fine.
PS: Hm. I’ll have to think on that. Yikes. Well, why did you leave where you were- is that clearer to you?
DP: Definitely not clearer. However I will attempt to translate that journey as best as words allow. I was with my son. We are all so breakable- (particularly when we are stripped of our weapons). And our time together really should not have been cut so short. We mourned that a bit. I read him every children’s story he would ever need in a single kiss. He massaged my heart. He asked me not to count time, not to waste it, but to eat it like sushi. Called me mommy and anam cara. I fussed over him, breast fed him, and embraced him as a man. And so we decided I should return to his sister and his father and his grandparents. I learned later in the dance actually that it was a lovely wonderful place to be. I suspect it was not easy to leave. I swam back- a mermaid reborn with legs.
PS: No weapons you say?
DP: No weapons. But my vehicle: my Tiger, my water, my mortality, my loves were close enough to sense. Weapons are not so important out of battle you see. It’s not a fight or a struggle there (your tea is getting cold)- that is for life.
PS: So now that you are back Durga, how do you remain wrathful? How do you take up your weapons again?
DP: Hmm. I’m alive. We chose life for me you see? We are mothers remember. In all spaces we are mothers even before we are and so our weapons are like limbs, our movements our stories. My scars are horrendous and beautiful because they are thresholds. Wouldn’t you know, thresholds are never where you expected they would be. And even when they are bloody, it’s only on one side. What is blood to the space between- nothing more than cool-aid.
PS: You are crying.
DP: I am.
PS: More tea.