So much of life as I knew it has shifted the past two months. I am learning new ways of living, am reading books that never were of interest to me before, hardly cooking yet still eating fairly healthy as that is what I do, reaching out to see friends as I need to, binge watching rom-coms, catching up on sleep and sorting through lots and lots of stuff. My husband of 52+ years died two months ago, from complications of Parkinson’s. He was diagnosed 11 years ago and rode a steady plateau for nearly 9 years, with the last two being sheer hell for him to experience and for me to witness. During that time I was mostly able to prioritize my life, keeping my artmaking near the top of the list, as I definitely did not want to be one of those women who lost herself to caregiving.
I also suffered major & acute knee inflammation as a result of manifesting grief in my body. As much as I grieve, the knee continues intermittently to remind me. I keep a log on my phone of these knee flares and the thinking that precipitated them. I researched the psychological meanings for the knee, and found they are flexibility; being flexible, able to bend and forgiveness.
And I have been reminded of something I learned once before. Grieving is a creative exercise. I have not touched one creative enterprise for the past two months. And I am ok with that. I have cloth hanging on the design wall, to inspire me, when that time comes. It just is not now. So that is the real reason for this post, to say that right now I am not making art, but do know when I am ready, it will return. I am seeing art everywhere else though, online, on my morning walks, when the knee cooperates and in nature. And I’m exhibiting art that I made earlier, so that is always good.
For now, my creative endeavors are grieving, reading, sleeping, watching, experiencing and forgiveness. I need to forgive my husband for leaving me so much to clear out. He left a full woodshop, and drawers & closets of stuff. My daughter and I have cleared a lot already. Yet the knee flares intermittently which is a painful reminder that I need to integrate more compassion & forgive this man, who was the love of my life, yet unable to let go of much of his own stuff, physically and metaphorically.
Additionally I have learned the value of friendship. I have been surrounded by four strong women. Women from different phases of my life, in different parts of the country, who have gathered around me digitally, surrounding me with love, care and in their own oft-precious time, to simply show up. They continue to show up, checking in with me, from time to time, to see how I am doing. This kindness and compassion is something I will never forget.
Yet another thing I have learned, or was actually reminded of, when this happened to an old friend of mine, is there are those who disappoint us. For whatever reason they don’t know what to say, so they say nothing at all. A good friend who is also experiencing this silence, through her own illness, sent me this. I love it and find it extremely helpful: 1) If they wanted to, they would. 2) No response is a response. 3) Not everybody has the same values, goals, or heart that you do.
And that, my friends is what I am learning on my summer vacation. On the flower…I grew this dark sunflower from a seed, in a peat pot this spring. My husband worked his beautiful garden up till he didn’t, transplanting these in late spring. Somehow a sunflower that is brown & rust is quite fitting this summer and yet beautiful in its own way.