Sunday, July 23, 2017

This Summer. These Moments. These Days.

How do you sum up that which seems impossible to sum up?

How to express concisely that which is so, so far from concise?

I read once that it seems years and years will go by without many changes at all, then suddenly everything changes all at once. That seems to be the way of it, I will agree. My last post, on Palm Sunday, we were looking forward to Spring Break trip to Legoland, summer vacation and well, just the joy that comes with the spring blooms and warmer weather.

A few weeks later, I was hired to teach a class at a local university. One of my long-time goals. Just one class, not a full-time position, but still, thrilling. In the midst of this, however, my mother passed into spirit.

My mother, in her late teens
We all hear about how difficult it can be to lose a parent, but until we go through it, it's impossible to understand. I won't write more about this now. But it happened. And in the midst of processing this, something else happened...

I interviewed for, and was offered, a dream job! Another long-time goal, finally realized. A bright spot. However, the very day after I accepted the position, my father was hospitalized with a massive stroke.

My father, in his 20s
And all the while, regular life went on. Animals had to be fed; children had to be cared for and kept in the age-appropriate spaces between knowledge about what was happening and protection from the knowledge of what was happening; homes had to be tended; bliss and joy had to be found and shared. I reconnected with old friends and reacquainted myself with things I once enjoyed but had, for whatever reasons, not found time for lately. I shed the skin of a former profession and, through workshops and training, stepped into a new career. I found moments of laughter with family I'd not seen for years, and depths of compassion I didn't know I possessed as I watched my beloved, rugged, lumber-jack like father struggle to feed himself.

Though I am in my 5th decade of life, my mother's passing, my father's stroke, and my career change have all left me feeling a bit lost in the world. A strange mix of grief and emancipation. I miss my mother and long for my father's return to a healthy independent state. I am nervous about learning the ropes of my new job and a bit more sentimental than I expected to be about leaving my old one. I feel as though I am leaping without a safety net, and at the same time, have a rush of creativity that has me doing everything from creating new works on my easel to making jewelry from found objects during quiet summer-citronella-incense-coffee-friends evenings on my patio.

Autumn Puddles, diptych, oil on canvas
And all the while, the birds sing, the cicadas hum, the sun rises and sets. Nothing waits for us to catch up or be ready. Eventually you being to feel normal again. In time, people quit texting or calling to see how you are. Cards quit coming in the mail. You are able to forget that terrible things have happened for moments at a time, and you can fully reach out and embrace with joy the new things that are coming your way. As Robert Frost so eloquently said once, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on."

I sit with my toes in the sand while my child rushes the waves. I am grieving and I am happy. I want to both hide from the world and revel in it. I want to sing and laugh from excitement and I want to be silent and still with sadness. And in this summer, in these moments, during these days, all of this is normal.

All of this is sane.

All of this is me.