Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls…


artwork by Kristen Jongen 
(HERE’S a nice dreamy song to enjoy *Forgive me, beloved elders of mine whom I risk offending with my super sweariness tonight. I’m feeling super sweary and refuse to censor myself, but I still love you.*)

You may have noticed it has been more quiet than not around this here blog since September. And maybe you think I always write some version of the same few things, yet I assure you, on this side of it, on this side of the wall I chip away at trying to bridge myself to the rest of the world, it is more like a spiral than a closed loop/ hamster wheel, just in case you have concerns, like I do sometimes. Trust me–I get it.

I do in fact find that I return, again and again to shock & horror, followed by wonder, everytime I see a photo or have a memory or miss Isaac. It hasn’t dulled or dimmed in its acuteness, even an iota, yet… Something I am grateful for and surprised by simultaneously. I do not want to ever become desensitized by the whatthefuckness and yet, the persistence of whatthefuckness is a repetitive and exhausting unravelling of any alleged “progress” I make toward the idea of “being ok with this”. Whateverthefuckthatmeans.

Which is partly why my blogging became intermittent and inconsistent.

And partly it’s cuz I’ve been/am on a journey to the very center of myself, and blogging–and lots of other things, I’ve discovered, are best kept shielded from all the dirt that gets unearthed during an excavation….

It has not been a direct path, in case you were wondering.  I had to let go and loosen my stranglehold on some desperate attachments I was clinging to (& maybe even accidentally drowning from my near deathgrip on them)– habits, ideas–people, even. I had to get quiet & clear. As if I hadn’t already been through the ringer, this extraction process finished the job, as anyone who has ever endeavored to stand up after getting knocked the fuck out, knows.

I continue to learn that ground zero, or day one, or even year one is not the worst that grief, trauma, or loss have to offer! That is an illusion I think everyone clings to, perhaps even experiences with the more peripheral losses we all endure over a lifetime; the sudden loss of someone we love but maybe didn’t see or talk to daily, or the losses of those loved ones who lived a full life or who were suffering terribly and death was a blessed relief atleast for them. We lean into these losses and over time the grip of pain fades, life doesn’t tarry there–in the vacuum of grief. I know those losses as well as anyone; grandparents, friends, clients, pets. Dearly beloved and achingly absent, and yet, in time, we relax into acceptance and fondness and reverie.

Spoiler alert: Losing a child is not like that.

I don’t mean to sound crass nor do I think I’ve cornered the market on suffering or anything like that. I’m simply acknowledging that losing a child, or more accurately, losing my child, and losing him to suicide, and having the relationship that I had with him disappear into the ether, has fucked me right up. And down. And all the way back around. A bunch. A whole bunch. Pretty much completely.

But not, to my utter astonishment, in the ways I imagined or the way it does in movies or books. I did not wail relentlessly at his funeral or have to take sedatives to get through those first days. In fact, the actual wailing that I (often) do happens only when I am alone; I apparently cannot muster or manufacture the vulnerability required to wail in the presence of others, besides my sweet husband, and I protect him from the worst of it because I am scared the truth will break his heart.

Also, I did not die (yet) from the agony of despair. I’m still shocked over this, but, here I am. What the fuck. Honestly, in all the worst case scenarios that played out in my mind as a mama, I relied on this certainty; my inevitable death, should my beautiful boy lose his life. And by the way, all that worrying I did, all his life, as a mama? That didn’t prevent anything. Fearing all the hypothetical worsts did not protect us from the actual worst. Just sayin.

I haven’t “lost my mind”, or rather, losing my mind was not what I thought it was at all. I haven’t shaved my head and run away (yet). I didn’t go on a lifelong hunger strike or cease to ever laugh again. My hair didn’t all turn white, my marriage hasn’t fallen apart, I haven’t blamed or confronted anyone or become an abysmally angry madwoman (yet!).

Compared to images of grief we’ve all seen over a lifetime, mine may appear very quiet, very internal, very private indeed. But if you know me at all, this is probably the most telling aspect of the gravity of my despair, as I had always been an open book and over sharer. But now I simply cannot find, cannot locate, cannot fathom the words and never have and maybe never will.

They do not exist.

I am rendered speechless in the wake of grief’s enormity. I am dumbstruck, awestruck, and mindfucked. I feel an actual reverence for the absolute staying power, complexity & depth of this sadness, this ongoing wordlessness. It is truly amazing. There is, honestly, for me, no other thing to do but to let the fascination of it all carry me, from rushing river toward an endless waterfall, I continue to brace for a landing that has yet to come. I come through each rapid, I surrender to my loss of control, I smash against the edges, I plunge to the depths, but the current keeps pulling me along and I. Keep. Breathing. All I know so far: Our capacity as humans to endure is astounding.

Whoever you are, whatever you’re getting yourself through, I salute you. I stand, bewildered, beside you. As one of my favorite modern writers says, “We can do hard things”.

Its true– It Is Unbelievably True, whether we like it or not, we CAN do hard things.

Yours Til Niagara Falls,



Published by: christinaryanstoltz

I write to touch the supple center of unguarded ache~ To release myself from the pressure of not knowing how to move forward from the unfathomable loss of my beloved son, my beautiful boy Isaac, to suicide, of not knowing how to release my grip on of the past, both the worshipping of it as well as the beating myself up for it, and letting go of the need to know what I could’ve done or what on earth I will do now. I write to heal.

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