Thirteen is a magic number. The moon has thirteen lunar cycles, it also travels thirteen degrees across the sky every day. As human beings we have thirteen major joints, it's a fibonacci number, there are 13 archimedeansolids. Thirteen is also the number of the Death card in tarot, the card of rebirth, old cycles dying, layers of skin shedding, and closure.
I waited to write this card mostly because the subject matter is something I still talk about in a hushed tone and partially because it's one of those stories you don't know how to begin. So let me sit you down and tell you a story about a girl and a boy and how sometimes when people get together they make a baby.
I didn't know I was pregnant when I miscarried, all I knew was something was very wrong and I needed to get to a doctor. Instead I sat in the bathroom until it was over. I won't go into what it feels like or how your mind goes into all sorts of places. Mostly, I was trying to figure out how I couldn't have known. I thought I was aware of my body. Eventually, I did see a doctor and got the news I half expected. I was pregnant and I had miscarried. Again the thoughts came rushing in "Am I so unfit that you don't want me as your mother?" These are thoughts that come from a former drug addict. My mind went places, I came to to the hard realization that I had been knocked up by someone who didn't love me, who left in pursuit of someone else. It wasn't that we were in a relationship, we weren't; it was my own naivete that made me believe or want to believe that if you made a child there had to be some sort of love connection. That's not how biology works, kids, and this is how I ended my Saturn return.
Years later, I find myself standing outside of a club with the man that got me pregnant. We're friends now and able to communicate in a way we weren't able to before. He asks me about it, said we've never addressed it. I told him it wasn't the time and I'd be able to talk about it soon. I choked up, got cold, and made him go inside. We talked about careers the rest of the evening because that's my comfort zone. I sent him an email a few days later. I wasn't able to talk about it face to face without breaking down so I explained it the best way I could. He understood.
The Death card isn't only about endings, it's also about beginnings, letting go of a painful past to make way for something else. In order for both of us to move forward we had to give this aspect of our lives closure. I painted this card as a way to let out what I was feeling and couldn't put into words. The day I painted it I walked around Roosevelt Island. I knew I had a painting in me. "Don't Come Back" by O'Death shuffled into my music mix and the painting started to form. I stepped out into the grass and the stormy air. A storm was brewing in real life and in my daydream. I listened as the image of me formed, wrapped in bandages, stomach exposed, pulling the flesh up with one hand while the other held something. Parts were still cloudy and the first drops of rain fell from the sky and onto my head. I had to get home. I had to paint. The crosses and monotropa uniflora were emerging now and the trickles of blood ran down my leg as the storm now was in full motion. (Monotropa Uniflora starts to rot after it is fertilized.) I ran over the bridge as the wind picked up and pushed me hard into the side. It's a good thing these bridges have tall walls, I would have blown right over the edge. I walked as fast as I could itching to get the brush into my hand and the paint swirled. I cried. I didn't know why, but I cried. The crows had appeared now and the ram skull positioned itself in the corner as one pink rose budded from the earth. With this song the card had created itself.
I came home and feverishly started to put it together. Later that evening the father messaged me. I told him about the painting and he asked to see it. "I get what you're doing." He said. "You make a painting and hopefully that gets it out a bit." I nod even though he can't see me. With that painting we closed off a chapter. It doesn't mean it won't still linger from time to time but it felt good to let it out, sometimes people enter back into your life so you can heal each other, no matter how painful the past. Sometimes it's the only way to move forward.
Monotropa Uniflora by Jim Shirey