April 26, 2020
Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here came on the radio the other day. It opens with a long and sparse guitar intro, in which a cough can be heard across one of the tracks. The sound is startling, as though someone unexpected was suddenly discovered to be in the room. More than once I’ve looked over my shoulder when hearing it. It’s what I love about the song, a reminder that this moment has been and will continue to be shared across distance and time.
When I heard that transcendent cough this week, it articulated a feeling I had barely been aware of, though I had been experiencing it almost relentlessly the past three months. It began ninety days ago, the day my brother took his life. There it is. In writing. That tufted weight that tugs at the edges of my brain. It is the presence that accompanies me when I wake in the night, the heaviness that pulls at my eyelids when I open them in the morning, the static that buzzes beneath every conversation. I don’t have to be thinking about it to feel it. But every now and then, a cough sounds and I am reminded. And I am startled by the reality of it all over again.
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The tether. That thing that binds us to our families of origin, not by any desire of our own, but through the mere act of existence. We spend our lives exploring the roots of this connection, be it to an unending wellspring of love or the heavy, unshakeable burden of pain.
In its healthiest form, the tether is meant to eternally connect us to a place of love and acceptance. It ties us to the hearts of those who know our deepest flaws and greatest mistakes and yet love us anyway. It is the place we can always return to and the greatest security life can offer us. The very existence of an umbilical cord, that first biological connection in utero, suggests the importance of this tie between humans.
A broken tether leaves us in freefall. It exposes us to the greatest anxiety a human can know- the potential of being detached and alone in the world. To be deemed unloveable by the humans we need most to love us, or the person who committed to do so until death do part, shifts something in our interior life that we can never fully regain. It is antithetical to the existence of humans, the deepest pain one can experience. And yet, almost all of us will experience it at some point in our lives.
Continue reading “1. The Tether”