Grief (and Thestrals)
Harry: [Referring to the Thestrals] What are they?
Luna They're called Thestrals. They're quite gentle really but people avoid them because, they're a bit--
Harry: Different. But why can't the others see them?
Luna: They can only be seen by people who've seen death.
I often think of this scene in Harry Potter. How Luna and Harry are the only students (that we know of) who can see the Thestrals. And the reason they could see them is because they had witnessed death. But not only because they had witnessed death, but they now understood the depths of the finality that come with death.
I believe the Thestrals are a beautiful metaphor about how the death of a loved one can change your whole outlook on life-- once you are ready to let it.
We found out our family cat Gary died yesterday. I have been having a hard time with grief today. She was a sweet cat and I will miss her so much.
I am no stranger to grief. I lost my youngest son Elijah to Sudden Unidentified Infant Death Syndrome in September 2015. He was only 3 months old. My whole world shattered that day. I remember it all so vividly, and yet it seems like a huge blur. The shear shock and panic when we could not wake him. My husband falling apart while I tried to do CPR and call 911. The moment I knew it was too late and he was gone. That last kiss to his cold forehead.
That day was a total nightmare.
My old self died that day with Elijah, giving way to a "new me" and my "new normal."
This new me had a set of eyes that were so fuzzy and out of focus. I couldn't see straight, so I never really made it out of the forest of grief. I am still there actually. Most of the time I just feel lost. I am just lucky enough to keep finding clearings along the way where I can catch a breath and push forward--
And it is in those clearings that I see the Thestrals. I see them on the days where I know Elijah is at peace, or I see the hearts and other signs he sends. I see them on the days where I am reminded just how precious every breath is, because I feel the absence of Elijah's breathing. I see the Thestrals in the moments I talk to others who have experienced a heartbreaking loss and understand how truly exhausting it is to keep pushing forward.
I tried to paint a picture of Gary yesterday. Nothing felt right. To me, it looks like a third grader made this painting, but that isn't why I stopped. I stopped after I painted her smile. It just didn't feel right. She was such a happy cat, but she was gone...and it hurts.
I will finish the painting someday, maybe when I find another clearing in the woods. Right now I just feel so lost.
"Being able to see Thestrals is a sign that the beholder has witnessed death, and gained an emotional understanding of what death means. It is unsurprising that it took a long time for their significance to be properly understood, because the precise moment when such knowledge dawns varies greatly from person to person. Harry Potter was unable to see Thestrals for years after his mother was killed in front of him, because he was barely out of babyhood when the murder happened, and he had been unable to comprehend his own loss. Even after death of Cedric Diggory, weeks elapsed before the full importance of death's finality was borne upon him" Only at this point did the Thestrals that pull the carriages from Hogsmeade Station to Hogwarts castle become visible to him. On the other hand, Luna Lovegood, who lost her own mother when was young, saw Thestrals very soon afterwards because she is intuitive, spiritual and unafraid of the afterlife." ~ J.K. Rowling.