I am familiar with loss in my family, so it’s unsurprising that I can find so much empathy with Ciel’s attitude towards it. Too early in his life, death became its guiding principle – he treats it as such. He harnesses the force of his grief to provide his forward momentum, imagining his every act being a step towards avenging his parents, finding who killed them. That same necessity, not in vengeance but leading my life in a way that would make my mum proud, is also what keeps me steady. We are not demons. We’ve simply learned to coexist with the other side.
It’s been a comfort to regard this closeness to the other world as a power. It will take some getting used to, but the more I accept and learn to admire it in myself, the stronger I’ll be. The Ancient Magus’ Bride’s Chise lives with the horror and majesty of the spirit realm without the benefit of loved ones to anchor her to the mortal plane. The bright phoenix of love and compassion she becomes when she finds the one who accepts her, the magus Elias, shines out the truth that leaning on his care is part of finding balance in her life as it’s come to be. She learns to release weary souls through peaceful passing, letting all her pain go through another being who needs her magic. But this won’t always be enough. She drains her restricted life force in pouring her love away in full flow. She must eventually own her losses and work to become independent. Otherwise, she will become chronically dependent on the ones who advise and keep her.
More than being strong for myself, I have a responsibility to resist giving into despair, in part for the sake of my daughter. In some ways, that prospect is more fearful than death. Without her grandmother, I must be a brighter light. Like Chise, I still rely on the affirmation of love from others. A certain comfortable fear in the weight of inner darkness, eased by companionship, dampens our power. Greater than the fear of losing one person I’ve loved, is its after-shadow of fearing being left alone. But anime is awash with series about friends being young, vulnerable and silly, and walking each other through it with the pleasant distractions of everyday worlds of adventure.