Tuesday, June 6, 2017

#SOL17: Waking Up

Forgive Yourself (M.A. Reilly, 6.3.17)


Have I been sleeping?
I've been so still 
Afraid of crumbling 
     - Melissa Etheridge


I.

I did not know I was sleeping awake--walking through the days and months after Rob's death with eyes open wide, and yet, somehow blind. At such times, sadness is more buoy than anchor. It keeps afloat the body that has little direction it can name or know. It gives meaning to the march of days and nights that follow the death helping to soften that slow trickle of time by the waning and waxing of tears.  At first trepidation creeped into my steps and living felt more tenuous than not. The simplest decisions felt too overwhelming to make.

These first year was marked by getting through, crying less, feeling more, and eventually beginning to notice the world beyond my immediate reach still pulsed with life.


II.

Image I made in March.
For the last two months I have drawn, painted, collaged, or photographed a face each day as part of a 100-Day Challenge. I wonder about my choice of subject. What exactly is it that I needed to learn?

Was it simply a matter of learning to draw parts: mouths, eyes, ears, noses, the line of the jaw as I first told myself?  Or was it more complicated?

Was I trying to relearn the curve of my own face? To know how the tremble of lips does give way to the lightening of eyes?  Each time I dropped white paint into the iris of an eye, I animated that image. Was this process a means to also animate myself?

Possibility is not an external matter--a Holy Grail to seek. Rather, hope and possibility are rekindled within and among others.


III.

My son recently told me to stop feeling sorry for myself. I bristled at his words and initially felt even sorrier for myself until this too felt burdensome and I stopped. Years ago a therapist I was seeing gave me a directive I did not want to do. I quickly asked, How will I ever do that?

He didn't answer me at first. Rather he asked me to lift one of my feet off of the carpet and I did.

"Like that," he told me.

Like that.

It is not that I haven't been busy. I have. But beneath these activities, I have been a body waiting. A woman waiting for something to change.


IV.

How do you move through grief?  How do you separate grief from a body?
Lift your heart off of the floor. Secure it where it has always belonged, and move on, knowing grief will follow, but it will not lead.


V.

It was Edward Said who wisely told us that we are well past a beginning before we can name it. The distance between Rob's illness and death, the aftermath, and now is measurable--allowing me to see my husband's life and death, and the continuation of my life, my son's life--here, now.

There is hope and possibility these days and I cannot locate a single event that marked this transformation as fact for there is no single event, no shining moment. As I mourned, life around me continued and I slowly tested welcoming the roar and press of living with tender hands--so often supported by others.

This life, I call my own, is what I make. It is so often about what we make, alone and with others. Sometimes it is that complicated and that simple. 

26 comments:

  1. Such beautiful art. And you're right about there being hope and possibility. We just need to keep making our own way through. Hugs.

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  2. It's true ... sometimes we think we're awake, but really we're asleep --or in that world between.
    Kevin

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    1. It's an interesting in-between world--just not one that is meant to be lived in.

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  3. We only know how far we've come when we take a moment and look back. Your artwork is amazing; I'm glad you took a moment to reflect on this process and share it with us. Grief is a harsh bond. I wish you continued awakening and reconnecting with that which is joyful for you.

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    1. Thank you Chris. I am looking forward to a few weeks of rest and fun.

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  4. You capture me so well in my first year of fog. I moved so slowly through life, wondering if this was my new reality. Nope... there's that next chapter coming... I'm in that now just a few steps ahead of you but your artwork knocks my socks off as I flip through my FB Timeline and I'm forced to stop and look that those faces. Thanks for your creations. Hope I can follow your lead...
    Bonnie

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    1. The one truth I think I know is there is no leading in grief, until I surrendered to the live int he present moment--hard as that is. Peace to you, Bonnie.

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  5. Through your grief you've created beauty in your painting and your words. I wish for you to see more and more of the beauty beyond those as you're ready. Maybe share this walk with your son.

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    1. I wish to see more and more beauty too. I will think about sharing it with Dev. Thanks Katie.

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  6. Through your grief you've created beauty in your painting and your words. I wish for you to see more and more of the beauty beyond those as you're ready. Maybe share this walk with your son.

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  7. Such powerful words: "Secure it where it has always belonged, and move on, knowing grief will follow, but it will not lead."

    I feel a lightness at the end of your slice today. I'm hoping you feel it too.

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    1. I do feel it, Jennifer. I do. Thank you.

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  8. I'm glad to read your words, Mary Ann. It seems that you have lifted that foot. That therapist was wise.

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    1. He was wise and I'm glad it is a lesson that has stuck.

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  9. I, too, have a son who sometimes says penetrating, somewhat harsh things to me at unexpected moments. Sometimes it takes a while to absorb the comment, think about what is at the heart of it and respond to it. But I always do respond because he needs to hear my "take" on things, too. This is his way of dealing with grief; perhaps he is afraid of it really getting hold of him. In any case, that you continue to lift those feet, draw and paint and write through your grief, and even share that grief with this community are all very healthy signs in my eyes. I only hope I can have that strength when my turn comes.

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    1. Strength mostly comes from shared sorrow. I would not have known that before Rob's death. All of you lift me.

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  10. This line, "knowing grief will follow, but it will not lead." As you draw your images, your self is returning to itself. You're growing through your grief and discovering the many layers there are. You have shared this journey with love and beauty.

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  11. I don't think there is any one path through grief, or any one moment in which we know we've passed over from one side where it is raw to the other where it is less so. I feel privileged to have been invited into your journey through your blog, privileged because of the sublime and honest way in which you've documented it as it unfolded.

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  12. I don't think there is any one path through grief, or any one moment in which we know we've passed over from one side where it is raw to the other where it is less so. I feel privileged to have been invited into your journey through your blog, privileged because of the sublime and honest way in which you've documented it as it unfolded.

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  13. Mary Ann, Forgive yourself for what you did not know-this is a line with depth and you explored it. Your March image is beautiful in that the light is shining through just like in your writing. We evolve through our trials. "Was this process a means to also animate myself?" I see you in colors now. May your light shine. If you would like to share your March painting for the spring gallery, I would love to showcase it.

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    1. We do evolve through our trials, if we are brave enough. Connections among people help. Thank you Carol for your brightness and positive views.

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  14. I understood very little they said. They seemed always to be speaking to others even though, at times, they were really trying to get some sense out of me.

    It wasn't though I didn't try. I did.

    The words wouldn't come or would refuse to make sentences.

    I never felt so alone than when they were all in animated discussion around a dinner table.

    I felt their waves of laughter crashing against me, eroding me. I felt myself slipping. I felt. Disintegration. I didn't feel.

    Then.

    Quite by surprise, it occurred to me that I had passed over to another place.

    I understand.

    At first, I find this disconcerting.

    I don't stand understanding,

    I said to myself.

    But. I did.

    I was elsewhere.

    Someone else. Recognizably myself. I was somebody not between two worlds, but in a world in which I could go forth. I found myself carried by their laughter, afloat. I was drowning no more. I was swimming. Apparently with some sort of direction.

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  15. Your writing is so powerful. Keep licti g those feet and taking those steps they will take you to places you never knew existed.

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  16. I am sending you strength to life your heart off the floor. Thinking of you as always.-Barbara

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