There is shock in realising your parents are ageing. It is a state so easy not to acknowledge until there is personal and violent catastrophe — that abyssal line between before and after.
This essay is derivative from two other artefacts: a poem and an essay. I draw on both as a backgrounding and progressive consciousness, to write what I regard as the third instalment in the narrative surrounding the demise of our aging mother; our champion. Not only drawing on, but appropriating two ecological theories: abyssal line and slow violence, I argue that both metaphorically go to the heart of the loss and grief of losing a beloved parent, slowly. I argue that the slow expiration, or disappearance, of a person is an ecological event when the human body as a discrete environment slowly loses its agency as it ages, within its familial environment.
I have chosen the braided essay form as I wish to explore and develop my ideas around appropriating both ecological theories — abyssal line and slow violence — into my family’s personal loss of mother/wife/sister/aunt through a series of catastrophic moments, followed by slow demise in palliative care. The metaphor is clear in my mind — a cataclysmic event created a before and after moment; then witnessing this protracted breaking apart of a loved one, slowly and brutally. A braided essay lends itself to this telling, as Walker writes: ‘The further apart the threads of the braid, the more the essay resists easy substitutions and answers’ (Walker 2017). I wish to test her hypothesis with an inward familial gaze.
Keywords: abyssal line; slow violence; ageing; ecological event