I am the paradox
To fully inhabit grief is to hold the contradictions
of the great mystery that loss shatters us and we
become whole. Grief empties us and we are filled
with emotion [...] We mourn our beloved's
absence and we invoke their presence. We cease
to exist as we once were and we become more
fully human. We know the darkest of all nights and
in so doing can bring the light of our loved ones
into the world. We are the paradox. We are the
bearers of the unbearable.
- Joanne Cacciatore -
I lost my father on 23June 2021. It's been 369 days that I cannot really account for even through I have been 'present'. There is great irony in using the word "present" or "presence" as, for me as of late, it seems to float aimlessly and completely weightlessly above the word "loss". Experientially, this is a great paradox..
Being in a paradoxical place, however, is not strange for me. I think that creating art about empathy, in quite an experientially cruel world, is as much a paradox than the notion that my father is with me spiritually, yet is invisible. When two opposite characteristics are contained in such a way that it seems impossible to understand we can speak of something being 'paradoxical', according to the online Cambridge English Dictionary.
There are times that I am overwhelmed by the lack of tolerance, the lack of compassion and the overall lack of empathy in society. Being human & being empathic is what is naturally contained. There is no paradox here. There is only a natural and comfortable fit. But to experience the lack of empathy towards human and non-human forms of life is, as Joanne Cacciatore writes, having to be the 'bearers of the unbearable'.
And so, as I enter this first week after the first year of the loss of one of my closest soul connections, I will hold the contradiction of the great mystery that loss has shattered me and I
am becoming whole. Having had the time to fully inhabited my grief throughout the four years of his physical and mental demise, I created a short series of drawings titled my father's breath (2021) which I will be exhibiting in October of this year.
But more on that later. .