FOR THOSE WHO NEED SCIENCE BEFORE FAITH 1. Field Study I once had a childish theory all souls were connected by invisible wires that could be stretched but never snapped. The closer two people, the thicker the strand I suspected ran between them–like phone cables able to grow and adapt. When I grew up and had children, my theory was subjected to field study as their braided cables twined and overlapped with mine, then each other’s. Their spirits arrived unaffected by doubt; they gazed at me with unfounded trust, utterly rapt. My theory now seemed fact. My exposed soul spilled unprotected into theirs. Our shared joints soldered closed; our fused pipelines were mapped. 2. Microchimerism Turns out there are scientific names for my long-suspected concepts: Microchimerism posits fetal cells are apt to switch sides–so an embryo’s unique cells are injected into its mother, while hers spin the skin in which baby’s wrapped. Older siblings’ cells linger in the mom, then are projected into future children–which means my son’s particles stayed trapped in me and his sister, even after he disconnected. His DNA lives on in us, though his lifeline has been snapped. Our swapped cells may explain why, when my children were dejected, their pain overwhelmed me; my face caught fire if theirs was slapped. 3. Quantum entanglement In quantum physics, entanglement theory is accepted proof that some bonds can never be severed. If a photon’s zapped in two, its split bits act as one no matter where detected (though they hide this parlor trick if a photo lens is uncapped). My son’s first deity fell when I proved human; he’d expected my perfection, found cracks in all my walls. Angry, he unwrapped and trashed his greatest gifts: brilliance, faith, love, hope. Disaffected, he died praying to believe. We fell down with him, thunder-clapped by grief, our spirits pulsing toward his dead end, misdirected into doubting we had souls—or else how could he have relapsed? 4. Post-Traumatic Growth Long before he learned quantum theories, my son respected God; he believed without thinking. Cynicism handicapped him, led his sister to mimic his scorn–’til unexpected loss tore our shells clean off, left us shivering, terrified, sapped enough for the hardest lesson: grief comes to reconnect us. Each tragedy tears off a veil. Spiritually, we’d napped through our lives, unhumbled. The skepticism we’d erected was unwinding our frayed strands. Then Post-Traumatic Growth remapped our wires, pushed us back toward Love. My son’s cord is inflected, not cut. I must trust our pipes still flow, our connection left intact.
Lanette Sweeney has worked as a waitress, reporter, editor, mother, fund-raiser, and teacher of English and Women’s Studies; she is now a full-time writer thanks to her wife’s support. Her first book, forthcoming in mid 2021 from Finishing Line Press, is a poetry collection about her son’s addiction and overdose death: What I Should Have Said. She has published her short stories, essays, and poetry in newspapers, journals, and anthologies, including the popular textbook Women: Images and Reality. She and her wife live in South Hadley, MA.
Editor’s note: Lanette has submitted the following poem by her son to be read alongside her own poem:
UNPLUGGED A Poem for his sister, Jamie, then 22, by Kyle Fisher-Hertz, age 24 Pipelines emanating from our respective centers allow now to be entered collectively. Seven billion perspectives become one where the pipelines meet, our thoughts circulating like blood pumped by a universal heartbeat. And in this web of pipes, infinitely tangled you and I, of course, were angled side-by-side, adjacently connected so close that pieces of our souls are shared through direct injection, our pipes flowing and our love growing, becoming ourselves together, So when toxic tar like a starless night sky began to clog my pipeline, nothing had a shot of getting through except for you. The chatter of the universe was muted. I was a numb appendage, cut-off circulation at risk of amputation. And so you pleaded through the pinhole of connectedness that remained for me to unplug the gunk, recirculate myself, and love myself like you love me.