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the cup is already broken (zen saying)

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(Further to post and comments of Nov. 29.) Everything we encounter, create, or possess is subject to decay. The ending is built into the beginning. We may not like it — in fact, we resist and deny — but there it is. In my beginning is my end,” writes T.S. Eliot in Four Quartets.

Someone brings us fresh flowers and within a few days they wilt and get thrown away. No big deal — no clinging, no lamenting. But the more we invest of our/selves, the harder it is to let go. Open any box in storage or wound in the heart — and find stuff you won’t let go. And we’re devastated when a friendships goes bad or a loved-one dies, when no amount of holding-on can restore wholeness.

A friend just finished a 12-hour shift on the maternity ward and we talk on the phone. There’s a fridge where still-born babies are kept, she explains; some parents come for a last visit before a porter takes everything to the morgue.

Fragments from my friend’s notes:

what goes on in the dark night /
room seven / no lullabies / only sadness /
deliver / cry eyes out / go home / to what?
cold f
etus / now a ‘specimen’ / goes to autopsy /
our human need / to know / cause of death.

May mothers sleep soundly tonight before they wake to the horror of an empty crib. May all caregivers be blessed with strong hearts as they go to work for another day. May all beings be at ease.

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4 responses »

  1. “There’s a fridge where still-born babies are kept, she explains; some parents come for a last visit before a porter takes everything to the morgue.”

    Hard to find any words for that. Just feel the terrible sadness of it. I want to join you in your prayer. May all mothers sleep soundly, may all who ever suffer such loss find comfort and support.


  2. I think one of life’s most anguishing times would be a mother’s (and father’s) loss of a child. As a mother, I thought about that, especially when my children were young, not that I lost a child but my parents did (my brother was 7) and, many years later when I became a mother, I was in awe of the strength of their courage and strength to move on. They had a tremendous amount of support from the community and family but still…the thought of it….(I find no words).

    • After posting, a friend and I speculated on what it might have been like for my mother to have two still-born children, one before me and one after me. The latter caused mom’s death when I was 3 and my brother 7.

      None of that was ever explained to me: mother simply disappeared one day and our little sisters were never mentioned. Endless tears.


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