Monday, August 24, 2015

Threshold of a journey...

My mother's death was a threshold and now grief is ancient journey to something new (?)  I don't know.  I'm in a state of grace, not knowing, just being, not doing. It's not what I expected and that's it exactly!  I am embraced by mystery, a mystery which is at the heart of everything. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Pausing on a threshold...

It's good to be dry when the rain is coming down hard.  The sound of rumbling in the distance, the closeness of the rain on the windows, the leaves of the vines shimmering-shiny against the glass. Everyday the dark clouds build to a crescendo over the mountains and the ocean.  It's a dramatic visual development, the greens darken and intensify, the hills become antique-purple and the clouds leaden blue-silver - a visual symphony of undulating value and contrast. We've all seen those time-lapsed videos but when I rest slow in the afternoon I find that the storm's movement lulls me into productive contemplation. 

The contrast of the rainy season drama and the coziness of home especially resonate in me.  It seems  I've been away a long time.  My mother died in June. After a few years of focusing on my mother through the end of her life  I've come home with her ashes and belongings to merge them with my things.  It has evoked much thinking about our relationship - in what ways we were alike and how we were worlds apart.  Now our belongings are juxtaposed into still lifes in every room, little vignettes that are a tiny spotlight on our story. In this new, harmonious order I can carry on with my mother. I can also look up and out ahead and know that I'm on another threshold.  

It turns out that caring for my mother was not an inconvenient interruption of my life, it was life, an important work for myself and my family.  It enriched me in ways I didn't imagine.  I had hoped in her last days for a deeper connection and it didn't happen the way that I had hoped, but it's not over. Death is not the end I thought. Connections hold and are still in the making.   

Three weeks after my mother died, Wally had a near-fatal accident.  He was testing the voltage on the main transformer and was shocked.  Before losing consciousness he saw the proverbial tunnel of light.  He has no memory of falling 20 feet.   It took me 2 minutes once I heard the explosion to find him. He was on his back staring at the sky, speaking softly of how beautiful it was. He said he felt ok.  I knew he couldn't be. After a few minutes he began to feel aching in his bones, swelling in his head.  He was burned in a few places and one hand was black with a small crater burned into one finger.  In a few days he recovered and was fine, but not the same. He was peaceful, sweeter. To try to explain what happened is to leave out the sheer wonder of it.  The shock stopped his heart and the impact of the fall onto his back started it again.  It was a perfect storm, but for us as a couple it was a miracle on par with the annunciation, so powerful its effect on us. Wally says he feels as if God hit his reset button... And what gets reset in Wally is a reset for me. 

It is a privilege to share the whole of life with someone, especially to the end. There's a rare and open vulnerability especially at the end or at the near-end. It can be a tangle of good and bad. I use those terms without judgement. To take in the full picture there's always a complex mix. It's genuine in its wholeness, that's what's important, and to judge it by a moment is to miss the key to the hidden treasure of understanding.  I realize that I knew too little of my mom and she knew too little of me. Ninety years are not enough.  Humans are complex, one-of-a-kind miracles even on the most ordinary day.  It's the mystery that compels me to make art, to be art, to love in wonder.  I have a stake in learning from my mother. The challenge to meet her with acceptance and love goes for myself and others too. We all have a heritage of gifts and deprivations, but they're both gifts. This was what I see as I look back after the stresses of these recent months.   There's gold in the gleaning.