Kara L.C. Jones joins the Are You There, God? It's Me, Medusa blogolympics as a Wiccan practitioner who was raised Roman Catholic and spent 18 years exploring world religions. These days, she is not part of a coven or formal community, but follows an eclectic path of honoring holy days like Solstices and full moons, holding sacred the 'green' view of air, fire, water, earth, and spirit. Early influences of Virgin Mary still reach across, though often in the form of varied Goddess iconography like Kali, Venus, She-la-nagig and others.
Kara is interested in bereavement rituals like Day of the Dead and memorial henna painting, which came after the death of her son Dakota. As part of her grief path, she has written extensively about her life as a different kind of parent. She and her partner Hawk co-founded KotaPress to publish a grief blog and website, and to distribute her books Flash Of Life as well as Mrs. Duck & The Woman. Her art lives at The 1,000 Faces of Mother Henna.
Dakota's entire being was made up of faith and magic.
I first visioned this child as a young girl, showing up randomly in my dreams and meditation. She gave her father and I the same night time dream one night. We were both floored to discover we'd had the exact same dream, down to the details.
We went up to Paradise at Mount Rainier, and there in the snow, in all capital letters: DAKOTA. We drove up to Neah Bay, stopping at an overlook along the way, and there on a boulder, in all capital letters, spray-painted in blue: DAKOTA.
We weren't going to get married at first. Instead we tried for two years to just get pregnant. Nothing. Then we decided that our love, our partnership was worthy of commitment. The day after our wedding ceremony, we got pregnant. Summer Solstice pregnancy. Spring equinox birth predicted for our child who turned out to be a son. Every moment seemed like magic. I had faith in the magic.
And then I heard the words this baby is dead.
To say I shut down is an understatement. I was so angry at the Goddess. First for taking my child from me. And then extraordinarily angry at Her because I realized the grief was overwhelming, and I would need Her help to make it through this. The last thing I wanted was any help or renewed sense of belief in a Being who betrayed my dreams so deeply. How could She do this to us? How could she take my devotion to beauty and leave me transformed into a mad woman with a head full of snakes that seemed to turn people into stone?
People would ask how I was doing, and I would scream. They stood dumbfounded, staring at me.
People would ask when are you going to try again? and I would scream that another child would not fix anything. They stood dumbfounded, staring.
People would say Okay Kara, it's been three years, now it is time to move on and I would scream.
I became incapable of maintaining or forming relationships because others would look at me, especially others who were happy or pregnant or had living children, and...
Ultimately, I did not just lose my son. I lost myself. We lost relationships. We lost everything. We found ourselves homeless in our car on the infamous September 11th. There was nothing left to lose now except my mind.
At that point, we found our way to this magic little island in Puget Sound where I met a few other mothers of the Earth. Friends who understood what it meant to make ritual a part of every single day. Magicians who led the way to everyday miracles, Reiki, retreats, re-engagement in a sense of being part of the air, water, earth, fire, and spirit.
The Internet also had been a continuous blessing as bereaved parents from all over the world began contacting us about our books, offering to contribute writings to our site, to the Dictionary of Loss, and to the Different Kind of Parenting zine we'd created. It was through the MISS Foundation that I reconnected with my ability to create relationship. Dr. Jo from MISS reached out to us and her model of living life in the presence of grief changed everything for me. I began writing with her and Dr. DeFrain. Hawk and I began offering creative arts sessions at the annual MISS conferences. My online relationships were becoming flesh and blood.
It was probably the gift of my good friend Lisa that brought me the whole way back to magic and faith. She simply asked me this:
What if we behave
make choices exactly where we are
given the options open to us in this moment
as if we are living our most cherished dream?
This little tool was the first that didn't try to fix what happened. It didn't require that I give up my different kind of parenthood. It acknowledged the grief and at the same time explored life after the death of a child, rather than make grief and life mutually exclusive.
It simply said This is where you are. This is what has happened. Given exactly where you are, with exactly what you have at hand, how do you cherish your dreams again? How do you dream again?
And so I found myself back in the present moment. If there is a Goddess, She could take care of the past and the future. All I have is right now. And if I think of NOW as my most cherished dream - always as my most cherished dream, then anything is possible again. Even happiness and play.
My son cannot be brought back. I can never be my pre-grief self again. The dreams of that previous self do not hold meaning here now.
In this moment, I have a sink full of dirty dishes. So in my most cherished dream, I take the time to play with the soap bubbles. In this moment, we have a house full of hungry people. So in my most cherished dream, I take the time to make pancakes with our grandchildren. In this moment, I miss my son. So in my most cherished dream, I take the time to play with sugar, beads, foil, and icing and make sugar skulls for his altar.
The energy and experience of my different kind of parenthood has come back around to being part of everyday sacredness. And though Dakota is not here in the ways I originally visioned, he is still here - in all capital letters - he is still a being made up entirely of faith and magic.