Suddenly, it is thrown to you, and you hold this grief in your own two hands, and you begin to look at it. And at first, you think it is an ornament, frail, tender, fragile, some sort of flower and you wonder what can be done with it. And then you realize it is art glass, this grief.
And you hold glass, and it moves, throbs, ebbs in your hands, and you realize that it is not just life that has it's own force, but death too. It throbs in your hands, and your own heart throbs with it, and the hot, salty tears flow down and are caught in the well.
You, who have walked a path that is different, and yet the same, you are unable to speak, and unlike many it is not because there are too few words, but because there are too many. And you hold this glass thing in your hands, and you don't even begin to know how to fill it - there are not tears enough. You hold it carefully, and even so, it begins to crack. You try and cobble it together, still terrified of that moment that it will shatter at every one's feet, spilling sorrow and gall.
And you look at this woman, her grief so fresh and new, full of sharp edges, discordant form, still warm from the fires of hell. You look at it, astounded by crudeness of shape and the way the colours are thrown together, clashing and jarring.
From that place, this present awkwardness, ugliness you ask the questions, you ask tentative questions, you ask the questions only a once grief struck person can ask. Not about how and when, about essence, about form. You hold up the glass, and with worn fingers you trace colours. You ask about shape, and the way one colour runs into the next. Cradling a newborn turns into university graduation, recent marriage returns to playing dollies in the basement. Your finger tracks the colours, locating them, caressing the way they cross the glass.
"Tell me about her", you say. "Tell me about who she was, and what she was to you?" And when all she can tell you is about the dinner the week before, and she stumbles, you listen still. And when the talk turns food, you ask about her favourite food.
The glass has a deep well, and you understand that it is not about the food, it's screaming a name into the darkness, and getting no answer. And you know that a name is the only gift you can give. Tonight, you will be the place where a name is still said, and stories are still told. You give the gift of remembrance, the solace of regard.
You hold up this art glass, and you wonder about the terrible power of art, the destructive forces of creation. You look at this woman who cradled baby, child and adult, you look at this woman and you form the words daughter and dead, God's grace, and grief, and you look at the fault lines in the glass, and you hold it. In your own two hands, you hold grief and sorrow and anguish, and you look at the enormity of grief and the smallness of your hands. Even now, even miles down the road, you do not know how any mother does this.
Even now, you do not know where God can be found in all of this.
dona nobis pacem