women of a certain age are like sunflowers; they know how to turn their faces to the sun.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Holding On and Letting Go

I found myself in tears this morning.


Because sometimes, something, or someone, reaches through the veil.

And touches us.

On TBS this morning, they were running one of my ( don't know if I should say, "favorite" - perhaps "most meaningful" fits the bill better) episodes of ER: the one where Mark (who is ill with an inoperable brain tumor) takes his teenage daughter to Hawaii in a last ditch effort to connect with her and pass something on before he dies.

He keeps telling her stories about her childhood, about his. She finally blows up at him, yelling that she doesn't remember all this "crap" that doesn't matter. How many parents have heard that one before? Ouch.

Yet, in the waning moments of his life, she grasps his hand and manages to push through the veil that is already drawing near her family, and says quietly, simply, profoundly...

"I remember."

That was when the tears began to noisily gush out, accompanied by nose blowing. Real crying, as opposed to cinematic crying, is neither gentle, nor pretty.

But it is cathartic.

I put down Morocco, looked up through the skylights in my studio, through the barest branches of winter trees, through the veil that everyday life draws across our existence, and cried,

I remember.

My mother died from an inoperable brain tumor over ten years ago. I went there. I did that. I will wear the tee shirt for the rest of my life.

There is pain in remembering, but there is also meaning. And I will not shy away from the pain if it helps me to open that space within, where the heart, the soul, the light abides.

I heard once (I don't remember where) that the reason death exists is because, without it, we would not properly value life. It seems we do not treasure that which is ours in abundance, in perpetuity, ad infinitum. We can only live this day fully, presently, soulfully, if we comprehend its fragility.

We can only hold on to our humanity by letting go of immortality.

In knitting, as in life, it is all about creative tension. Hold on too tight and we can't fit our sweaters over our heads (or our love handles.) It pulls and catches us. It binds us up in all the wrong places. Let go too loosely and our sweaters lack definition. They sag, they stretch, they lose their shape. Gauge (balance) is critical.

Hold onto life too tightly and we tie ourselves up in knots. Let go and our lives can lose their definition.

So, what do we hold onto and what do we let go?

I remember.

That's what we hold onto. Because, in remembering, we assign meaning to the lives of those we remember, and to our own. We allow ourselves to be pierced by life, opened from the inside out.

And in the process, we let go of the meaningless, we loose our spirits.

To our great good and our world's great glory.

There will be a lot of noise this week about love. About how expensive jewelry, and candy, and the ubiquitous long stemmed red roses prove we care.

I am glad this morning, because something rose above the noise.

Because I "found' myself

in tears.


Michelle said...

Congratulations on receiving the great gifts of clarity and catharsis.

Wow, I guess I'm a little glad I stopped watching ER years ago. It's hard to watch (even on TV) the process of grieving and how kids experience the stages of death at a slower rate than adults.

margene said...

My mother too died of a brain tumor (19 years ago). Still today I relive the last year of her life...what I did, didn't do and could have done better. It isn't about guilt, just acknowledgment of how much I miss her.

Opal said...

I'm glad I read your post, because it's certainly risen above the noise of this upcoming "holiday".

km said...

I don't have a lot of words...just thank you. Your clarity helps me to find peace in the pain of remembering. I lost my Dad in November. These past few months have been tough.

vi said...

it must be in the air...
i lost my mother, and my best friend both to cancer, from some of my favorite aunts,
and my adopted mother to complcations from diabetes.
in rummaging around the studio yesterday, i found birthday cards from all of them to me
i cried most of the day

i miss them all so much

i figure they will all be waiting when it's my time to go
and i also figure.....knowing them, i need to have some good and funny stories when i get there

take good care my friend


Taleah said...

** hugs ** Your post is so honest, I love it. Thanks for sharing your heart.

textilejunkie said...

Beautiful words. Take good care yourself :)

Donna Lee said...

You never know where those thoughts and feelings are going to hit from. The best thing you can do is just what you did, experience them and appreciate them for what they bring. A remembrance of the ability to feel strongly and to love.

Kim said...

Your post was very touching. Having lost a child, a grandbaby and a fiance, loss has deeply touched my life and it is thru remembering them, that we keep them alive in our hearts and our minds, even when it is painful or brings us to tears. It is what helps us to be compassionate and human.

Thank you for your lovely words.

Rachael Hutchings said...

Beautifully said. Thank you for sharing.

EGunn said...

Funny how things sneak up on you when you're least expecting them, isn't it? It's always something small that sparks a remembering, and it's so beautiful when it happens. My grandmother was hospitalized Saturday night because she suddenly can't remember anything or even form sentences...now you have me crying! (Thanks...I needed it!)

Kate said...

I had a friend my freshman year of high school who had a brain tumor. I leant her my French notes a lot because she was out with horrible headaches all the time. She had to drop out to be hospitalized in the middle of april that year, I haven't heard from her since.
Thank you for sharing those feelings. They're an important part of growing up.

La Cabeza Grande said...

Poignant. Thanks for wrapping something meaningful around a difficult day.



Lucia said...

I have very few memories of my mother (long story), more of my grandmother. At my mother's memorial service a few months ago one of my cousins told me he looked at me when I came in and saw my grandmother.

I carry them all inside me. As they say in Quebec, je me souviens.

Dove Knits said...

That episode, even though I've seen it 5 times, breaks me down every single time.

I'm sorry you've had to go through that. But I am glad you remember.