To me this place is holy and this ritual sacred, but strangely, however close I feel to Vivian, I feel distant from God. Maybe that’s not exactly right. Rather, I don’t sense the presence of a person or a being, the kind of God I hear about while sitting in the pews of the church across the field. When I contemplate God among the dead I find only emptiness and silence. I feel alone, and I do not like feeling alone, least of all here. I do not like this sense of God, this nothingness in which I now dwell. It’s dark and discomforting, and I blame it for my grey hairs.

In the months following the death of our newborn daughter, I had remained steadfast in my faith, devout and prayerful. I had not for years imagined God primarily as a figure of power, like some cosmic orchestrator of all that is, so I did not feel inclined to blame God for our loss and our sorrow. I didn’t have an answer for it, but I didn’t look to God for an answer. I didn’t expect such a response. I let God be.

As time passed, however, my faith weakened.