A brief biography of Wilma Mankiller

On the way to school this afternoon I was listening to a biography about Wilma Mankiller. An amazing woman. An amazing woman that had a near death experience when she was hit head-on in a car accident.

It was mentioned that while she was laying in her car dying of her injuries, she felt as though love had enveloped her.

That was it – just this brief mention. The biography moved on to the tragic circumstances* of the crash.

I quit listening to the biography. The recording went on and my brain froze in that mention.

Martha was dying in pools of her injury and all she felt was love.

I think about Z and Joe in their final moments and I hope the feeling of love overcame whatever else was going on in their bodies and brains.

Joe knew my love for him – there wasn’t any doubt. But that’s what happens in a strong, committed romantic relationship. You feel the love constantly. It’s part of the dynamic. Unending and forever widening love.

The kids though? I mean they know it, but those teenagers want nothing more than to reject it. Part of the maturing process, they spread their wings and struggle to get away and we, as parents, want nothing more than to bathe them in love.

Their souls collect the energy we put into them. I’m positive their spirits recognize what the teenaged brain rejects. All the focused energy doesn’t get lost in the universe – it hits the intended target, even if that target is mid-fledge.

Even in death, the love doesn’t magically stop. But the intended destination is gone and the love bounces back as grief. That’s a super in-elegant way of saying it, but that’s why we feel grief. Love with no direction.

In my sad parents club, I talked about the weird way to describe this half-baked healing. It’s not easier, being a seasoned member of this club. These are not wounds that time will heal. There is nothing that will make the grief go away. There is no moving on, only moving forward. But I’m not as raw as I once was. Those waves of grief that crashed over me so often at the beginning don’t happen with the same frequency. I remember when it was fresh; sitting at my desk like a zombie, having the relentless waves of sudden, shocking grief crash across my guts. That only happens once or twice a day now. Not once or twice an hour like it was at the beginning.

While I was on my blogging hiatus, a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen since high school lost her son. I went to his visitation and cried with her. For our lost children. A woman that I hadn’t seen in 25 years and the time melted for the hour I was there while we communed in our shared position. I couldn’t offer her any advice – and frankly, I wouldn’t want to – I’m way to cold-watered to be helpful anyway, but I could give her my love. I gave her my love and my energy in that stupid pale-pink room.

What I hope is everyone that passes through my life collects my love. And I will collect the lifetime of love given to me. Even if we don’t in that minute it’s offered, I hope the spirits understand the intent and saves it up. And when we are all in our dying hours (our very old, appropriately aged dying hours) our bodies remember that love and let it wash over us, deeply and truly.

And this is my comfort, that my child and my husband left this world not in pain or fear, but comfortable in the saved-up love.

0 stars. Do not recommend.

The Importance of Art

I read an internet thing not too long ago that I’ve not really been able to shake. It talked about people that are sewn into your life and when they leave, they don’t just go – they rip apart the fabric of you.

That was a pretty good demonstration of loss for me. I could see it, what a failure in fabric sewn together looks like. (a hole. It looks like a hole. But more dramatic)

It’s hard to describe to someone that hasn’t had a traumatic loss what it is to lose. Words don’t ever get at the core of the situation. I can dance around it. But I can’t quite describe it. Not really.

One of the reasons I fell out of the writing habit was because this exercise is healing through hurt. Like when your back hurts and you lay on a hard, flat surface and it initially hurts worse but then it starts to feel better… I dread sitting down at a keyboard and screen to write out my feelings and make things worse.

I know it is temporary, and that getting these things out is far more beneficial in the end, but that initial step? Man that sucks.

According to movies and TV shows, water on a keyboard can cause sparks. Last I checked, tears were water and you shouldn’t cry on a keyboard. I mean I do have Kleenex, so it’s not a legitimate visual, but still. You get my point

Now it hurts, and there is a fire hazard, and I’m unoriginal because I don’t really add anything new to this conversation around trauma and grief and loss.

“Rising Cairn” is a 4,000 lb. stone sculpture that is the work of artist Celeste Roberge, a wire-form person filled with rocks. “Melancolie” by Albert Gyorgy is a bronze man slumped on a bench with no chest. Both super famous works that, if you’ve seen the internet, you’ve seen these sculptures. These are opposed imagery. They complement the simultaneous weight of trauma and the emptiness left behind. They each tell half the story.

Art is the visual where our words fail. “Let me show you” is the refrain we give our children when they need to learn a new skill. It’s not with words, it is when we engage in visual communication that we can really demonstrate the inner workings of life.

It’s why we romanticize a shared glance and sweeping landscapes and why Baz Lhurmann has a successful filmmaking career.

I’ve had friends that painted Z’s name into rocks and shells and left them in the wild. Whomever finds them will know they represent an emotion. A visual demonstration that isn’t quite so big and public, but far more personal.

I don’t want to talk about it. I want it acknowledged. I don’t want to talk about it.

But if you can see it, if I can show you? That solution is best.

There is the matter of lives sewn together. These threads of life that were supposed to keep us together until the day I died. Not the day she died. Nor the day he died. These threads failed – everything let lose and unraveled and then all I’m left with is this stupid hole in my life. Life has frayed to failure. That is a visual I can share.

Zero Stars. Do not recommend.