“Pain engraves a deeper memory.” Anne Sexton
Yesterday I was “tidying up” my room – which means moving papers and books from the place they currently don’t belong to some momentarily less inconvenient place where they will rest, un-belonging, until the delusion of tidiness passes. A folder of Mom’s clippings has travelled from one surface to another for a few months to remind me I want “to do something” with its contents. Treasures hang precariously out its open sides – an image that reminds me of a butterfly in an embroidery hoop (it isn’t), a cartoon cat silhouette Mom cut from shiny black paper and folded into a greeting card, directions for getting to the Irish Embassy. As I stood clutching the folder, gripped by indecision (shove it back on the bookshelf? hide it with other butterfly remnants?), I remembered the reason I started this blog. I truly, deeply needed to find something in my own life that was beautiful and totally mine. I thought making pictures for myself would give me something new to see, and even a way to be in love again.
I feel so strongly about this – that we are in a kind of trance waiting passively for other authorized people to show us what our lives should look like. Then, grief comes into your life and cuts through that. Grief is so powerful, it soaks through the pains that have carved us up and makes them soft again. Grief leaves us as whole as we can maybe ever be, living nowhere but in this world as it carries us along. You can’t make anything out of grief. Grief makes something out of you.
I love the way you pair images together. This one really touches my heart. It reminds me of when both of my parents died (4 months apart). I felt consumed with grief and at the same time free. Free from their arch conservative religious views, their midwestern sternness and narrow views. Their constant disappointment with me. Yet it wasn’t a satisfying freedom. It was lonely, dark and surrounded with sorrow.
You express it perfectly, Rebecca and give me pause to think how much I am still living the story my parents told me.