Some of my kin have made themselves unwelcome by their tendency to weep when the name of a dead loved one comes up. Others of my kin express disgust that those weepy people have not earned the right to grieve so promiscuously, to indulge their tears ostentatiously, and to upstage the grief of those who hold a closer tie to the dead.
As stars within a galaxy explode into place, burn, collide, smash, ingest, implode, freeze, and scorch, as our star the Sun radiates its heat with tongues of flame, providing all our warmth and hope for life; as our Earth freezes into the goose-bumps of glaciers, bursts into tears, sloshes us in tsunamis, hurricanes, and ensuing mudslides, adjusts her fertility in a necklace of earthquakes; as our fellow Inhabitants swarm the earth, eat us and each other, destroy our food, become our food, eat our children even as they amuse our children; as we ourselves embody a galaxy of life to the one-celled organisms that inhabit our guts and membranous interiors such as eyes and noses in varieties greater than the number of the cells containing our own DNA; as such miracles come to pass, we struggle with the silly obstacle of Death. What does our own death matter in the beauty and viciousness and miracle of all this?
We cannot hope to avoid death, not even through a legacy that a generation can squander or forget, a genetic bloodline that can easily die out, or even by leaving the world “a better place” – unrelenting demolition of the world we love takes place now. Eternal Life hangs on aborting that other kind of Death, the isolation of not belonging to the whole of this spectacular life.
A mama crocodile gives birth to horrifyingly cute baby crocodiles, horrifying because we know that not much time will pass before our own babies will qualify as lunch to this brood, but still cute, because we love babies. Do the tears that gush from her eyes as she munches on some other mother’s baby come from her grief? Do crocodiles feel grief the way elephants, primates, and whales do? Even for members of another species, the way our children do for puppies and kittens? Perhaps not. But do not be so certain that her tears mean less than yours.
When we grieve, we pay the price of belonging to the beauty in all Life, belonging to the harmony of the galactic spheres, to the ornaments of birdsong, to the flowers that thrive in the snow. Grief comes as we perceive the beauty of what we have lost, what more beauty we lose at every moment, what beauty we will still lose, and yet treasures, indulges, and pays promiscuously the full measure of the beauty that belongs to all of us who have tears to pay for it.