Thoughts inspired by this Washington Post article: Historian believes bodies of 800 babies, long-dead, are in a tank at Irish home for unwed mothers
“God knows who else is in the grave,” one anonymous source told the Daily Mail. “It’s been lying there for years and no one knows the full extent of the total of bodies down there.”
If I have one theme in my life, it’s that there is a purpose to our grief. Our purpose is to melt the stone of it, and once melted keep it liquid. By keeping it liquid, reclaim our own humanity from the extraordinary apathetic bitterness and cynicism of our time. To rediscover our own humanity.
This story of countless hundreds of tortured and essentially murdered Irish children is only somewhat unique by its details. In arc, it can be repeated in a thousand different ways. Yes, in details there are the residential schools in the U.S. and Canada and elsewhere for native children. But then again, this doesn’t have anything to do with schools or religion. This has to do with the bigger story, the rapacious march of empire, the genocide of village life and culture. There was a time before this kind of shame at our own everyday humanity – I mean, women get pregnant. This is not shocking. But these women were made to feel horrific shame. Not only that, most (all?) of these babies probably came from rape. So these were women twice traumatized. Families twice traumatized. Villages.
One of my sincerest daydreams is a national day of mourning where everybody stops work and we just cry together about all these horrible unfixable unforgettable things.
But honestly it would probably have to be a day of the week. Or even every day, like breakfast.
This isn’t a project we could ever finish. Too much has happened. And we keep adding to it at a monstrous rate, every day. But the goal isn’t to finish it. The goal is to be checkmated. There are no amount of electronic toys or wars of justice or moralizing laws that will address this.
We’d have to dedicate so much of our time to grief that our electric lights and cities would go dark, we’d grieve by flickering firelight, our clothes would be hand-woven by each family, our food harvested and grown by ourselves, because those that do currently do this things for us need to grieve too. The sweatshops would close, industries grind to a halt, because the fathers and mothers, children and grandparents there need to go home to grieve too.
Our grief would become part of our daily meals, a small plate put out for the spirits to eat. We would then become so small, so small and beautiful, but proud and fierce, like clans and tribes of hummingbirds, the dry salt trails of old tears marking lines down our cheeks. We’d be arrayed across the world, we once so-called modern humans, doing our daily grieving, finally having a real purpose other than to rush past the horrible things that we do everyday, our mountains of buffalo skulls set side by side the mountains of children’s bodies.