Last week a sinkhole suddenly took a bight out of the main street that runs through my town of Fairfax, California. This sudden, ominous cavity reduced the road to a single lane causing traffic to back up for blocks as each lane stopped to let the other pass, orange traffic cones and caution tape lining the hole to keep us from driving too close and falling in. 

During the same week, we lost two beautiful, profound teachers: The Black Feminist scholar bell hooks and the Dagara elder Malidoma Some. In addition to that, my furry companion of 15 years, Garbanzo, the Fearless Wonder Pug also left his body.

The morning my father died, twenty five years ago, I was on my way to a conference where Malidome Some was about to conduct a grief ritual. By some stroke of grace, I went straight from my father’s bedside to a ceremony where my tears were considered sacred and could flow. 

Malidoma Some helped teach me how to grieve and in teaching me to grieve, he helped make death safe. bell hooks gave me a compass for living a life of radically inclusive love. Turns out, the more love there is, the more grief is inevitable. Their physical deaths have brought their teachings alive during this first raw week of Garbanzo’s absence. They travel with me on the main street that runs through my life as it has narrowed into one lane and traffic backs up for blocks.

Sinkholes are caused by water that, draining underground, erodes the soft soil in and between rock, exposing voids. It seems the tears we push underground also eroding the soft tissue in our hearts and world, revealing the holes in our foundation. Sinkholes are appearing in every area of life as our world comes crashing down. Traffic is backed up for miles.

While I write this the town of Fairfax is efficiently filling the hole to avoid an extended disruption. This week, I’m defying the orange traffic cones and caution tape that’s trying to keep me safe. I’m opening to the hole allowing my grief to flow above ground and the losses to change the contour of my life.