Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

wpid-img_20140730_151118.jpgI’ve been pretty silent on the blog this summer. The one year anniversary of my dad’s death passed, along with the birthday that marks the first year of my life in which my dad had no physical presence. I’ve been silent on here about it for several reasons…

One is that I’ve started a lot of posts only to end in bitterness and confusion because I’ve been on a rocky journey lately.

Another reason is that I’ve been able to forget that bitterness and confusion because of happy and joyous things going on in my life these past couple of months, and so coming back to this blog brings me down again with feelings of both grief and guilt.I’ve probably been trying to avoid that.

I want to write about my dad, I want to write about grief, but sometimes I also just want to throw off the weight of grief and be happy.

The seasons are changing again. I thought that I couldn’t handle the smell of summer, but now the crisp fall air frightens me. I wonder if I am simply still afraid of the passage of time. I’m afraid of the marking of more days, months, years spent without my dad. Fall means I’ve done this before, it’s not the anniversary of the death but it’s the anniversary of the aftermath… It hurts because I used to love Fall. Hopefully I still can…

The other day I caught myself saying, “I’m tired of this. I’m tired of being the girl without any parents.” It was a strange emotion. It was as if I felt like turning to the sky and saying, “Okay, God, I’ve done the whole grieving thing. I think it’s gone on long enough. You can bring my dad back now.”

And I think that’s why I’ve been so silent on this blog– because after writing that sentence, I had to stop and search Facebook for ten minutes because I didn’t want to keep writing.wpid-img_20140825_163538.jpg

That happy stuff, the good stuff, the gifts that I can’t believe are coming my way in this life… that all comes with a sadness too, it comes with its own shadow. Because when I’m happy, I want my parents to know that, I want them to see it. I want them to meet the amazing new friends in my life, I want them to hear about my job, I want to tell them stories about Grey Havens YA

I don’t want to go through another Fall without them.

Title taken from “To Autumn” by John Keats.

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Mingled.

As I approach June 10 2014, I don’t know how to feel. Once again, I let the words of Josh Garrels speak for me:

We wait for downpours
A drenching joy
A carnival sky

But what I don’t say,
What I can’t say,
Is that with this joy
Comes a mourning…

Something left behind
Blue lined, teary
Mingled, I move on…

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Mingled, I move on. I really don’t like the term, “move on.” It sounds so final, so simple. It’s something you only do once, and once you’ve done it, it’s over. You’ve moved on, life is normal again. Also, the word “move,” implies a moving away from something, leaving something behind. I don’t want to “move on.” I like better the phrase my grandmother used to say to me for a while after my mother died: “Keep on keeping on.”

Mingled, I keep on. This year has been one of survival. I’ve had a few people ask me recently what I plan on doing with my future, and I cannot answer them. I cannot answer them because all I’ve been able to do is focus on surviving, and that is what I plan on continuing to do.

I do know one thing I want from this life, though. I want not only to survive, but to thrive.

Whatever that means, whatever that looks like, I want it. And I know for certain that my mom and dad would want that for me too.

Mingled. The year is over, but the grief and the mourning and pain are not. There will still be times when I am not anywhere near “okay.” I will keep writing about it, because I have to, because I want to share with others, I want to cultivate roses in this wasteland, as I walk through this valley of the shadow of death. Let there be light. Let there be beauty. Let there be joy. (And let there be recognition of sorrow, too.)

Let. There. Be. Life.

All things will change
We wait for the rain
And the promise remains.

Against my ruins

My sense of smell is intricately (and sometimes quite inconveniently) linked to my memory.

The other day I caught a whiff of new-carpet smell, and I nearly burst into tears. (My dad used to work in a carpet store. That smell clung to his being all of my childhood life.)

And yet another day, the air was warm and heavy. We opened the windows. As I walked down to my room at the end of the night, I caught the smell, that outdoorsy, windows-open, fresh air, summer smell. I can’t handle that smell, the smell of summer…

Because my last summer was so awful. Daunting. Oppressive. Dark. Suffocating.
It can’t be summer yet. It’s too soon.

T.S. Eliot says,
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

Did winter keep me warm? Winter was awful too at times. But the cold was so long and permeating that perhaps I forgot about the passage of time. And now it is April.

More Eliot,
April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

I never agreed with Eliot’s description here before. Who could call ever call the breath of April cruel? But now I think I am beginning to see what he means. Yes, spring is the season of the poets, but in the joy of new life, there is also sorrow. It is this very juxtaposition of the blooming April against the decaying winter that makes it so cruel.

The world is still slow, silent, dead, when spring tries to grab hold of us and thrust us into the life.

Pablo Neruda,
How do the seasons know
they must change their shirt?

Why so slowly in winter
and later with such a rapid shudder?

What will it be like this time around? Can I handle that rapid shudder?

And how do the roots know
they must climb toward the light?

And then greet the air
with so many flowers and colors? -Neruda.

Am I climbing towards the light? I need it so desperately.
But when my dried roots reach that light, will there be any flowers to bloom?

I have lost my train of thought. Eliot: These fragments I have shored against my ruins… What does it mean? What will it bring? I need to climb towards the light. Lilacs, I want lilacs. I cling to the promise of the lilacs, of the spring rain. This dead land, this waste land, needs water to quench it and color to save it.

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock)
-Eliot.

among the rocks

IMG_0164Yesterday, I climbed a mountain. (Okay, I didn’t literally climb a mountain, I hiked a trail in the Flat Irons on the edge of the Rocky Mountains, but it sure felt like mountain-climbing to me, especially as I struggled to keep up with my brother who takes to trails like a mountain goat.)

Yesterday, all that mattered was getting up to the top of that trail and making it back down again. Nothing else mattered. I didn’t pull out my phone, I didn’t have my bag with me, I didn’t have to focus on a to-do list, because none of that stuff would help me get up the side of that freaking mountain. All I could do was concentrate on my breathing, push my limbs, and keep going.

I didn’t really have much space to think about what was going on in my life because all I could think about was getting up and back without falling. It was kind of like an escape.

I had great conversations with my brother, I saw beautiful flowers, I looked out over breath-taking views. And after it was over, I felt accomplished.

As we neared the end of the trail on our way back, I didn’t want to reach the car. I didn’t want to have to come back. And sure enough, after we started driving home, my phone rang. Real life was calling me. I had a new job and plans had changed and I’d have to report to that job in two days (now tomorrow). That’s good, right? But to me, the ringing of the phone paralyzed me with dread and fear and I don’t know what else. (That’s been happening to me a lot lately, when my phone goes off, I just don’t want to face whatever’s on the other end, even if it’s something good.)

Because I still don’t want any of this to be real.

If I start a new job, that means I have to put on a brave face. I have to concentrate. I have to pretend like nothing’s wrong around a bunch of people who have now way of knowing what’s actually wrong. I have to deal with the countless mistakes I’ll make. I’ll have to worry about a schedule that might eat away at the time I get to spend with my family. But I have a job, please hear me when I say I am so grateful. I’m just also… scared.

Everything is not okay, but I have to keep going as if it were…

And when I was climbing in the Flat Irons, I didn’t have to think about any of that, and it was amazing. I scrambled up piles of rocks, clung to trees, sat in the shade of a boulder, and the sky had never looked so blue before.

If I could only name one thing that I love about the Rocky Mountains, I’d have say it’s the Colorado wildflowers. They’re all over the place, bursting between rocks, clinging to edges of cliffs, sprouting up amid monotone fields, and thriving on the tundra. Growth in the most unlikely places.

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May

It’s been a dark winter.
It was a long and lonely fall.

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Yesterday, the only sunny morning of the week, I took a walk outside.
I breathed in the beauty of the Creator,
And I felt refreshed.
There was a sense of something bursting forth…
Something I know not what, yet.

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This is the season of the poets:
Something within our bones swells with joy
When we experience this renewal of the land
When the flowers bloom and the harsh ground turns green again.
Its a rush to see the luscious forrest once more, no longer the barren wasteland.

We say, ‘Yes, all can be well again–
After winter must come spring, it must.’
We need this grace, we cherish it.
As much as we need the sun to come up each day
and the rain to fall on the sinners and the saints.

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Rain, what beauty, what grace!
What transformation!
The showers, the storms, the drenching,
The power that causes the blossoms–
We need that grace too.

Drink deep, little earth, little heart,
And bloom, bloom, blossom little daughter.

The cruelest month?

I’ve been doing a lot of writing about myself lately. I’ve got some scholarship essays and a personal story both due on Monday. So, today, I don’t want to write about myself. I just want to leave you with the beauty of April. I keep longing for May because I’m so stressed with school, but the reality is – April is a gorgeous month, mixed with new spring blossoms and leftovers from winter’s darkness. I don’t want spend my April pining for May.

 

Simple Beauty

I struggled to figure out what to post today. However, I did just spend an hour or so going through photos and editing them and having a really fun time being creative, so that was nice and definitely necessary after a stressful day. As I was processing the images from a spontaneous photo shoot with my friends, I found this gem:

(please click the image to see it at a better size, thanks! )

I’ve always loved images of plants growing out of rock. I think I just love the hope of it, the idea of blooming in all circumstances, finding room to grow no matter what tries to wall you in… Just respond to the sun (note – “Son” can also be used here) and push your way through. Break out and let your beauty shine…

I don’t know, sounds kind of cliche, but it’s also just simply beautiful, don’t you think?

Love it.