Monday, January 31, 2011

The anniversary slipped on by. Chatted some with my sister, led a Sunday School on Mental Health, cried a wee bit, ate ice cream, read to the kids. It is over. That whole darned year of "firsts without": first Valentine's, first Easter, first Birthday, first Mother's Day, first Christmas, first Birthday since 1942 that my Mom hasn't been on this earth.

I am trying to duck down to Ann Arbor to spend time with my Papa before the big blizzard hits. And sometime that week he will realize too that it has been a year. That will be a hard hour.

Grieving someone that hasn't been part of your day-to-day life (for some while) must have its own timing. I saw my Mom roughly every six weeks. This included the time we were in Durham (17 hour drive.) Yet, the day -to -day absence makes me feel that Mom is still there in that far corner of Michigan, in the corner of my mind, just beyond the blue hills and the Manistee river. Drinking a cup of coffee in our little blue house, talking to the cat, snapping her fingers to the Country station, walking with snowshoes across the field, Love makes places sacred, and death alone shows us the strength of loves tendril-ed ties.

Friday, January 28, 2011


All week I have felt distracted, tired, unambitious, and unmotivated. Doug says that I am grieving. I planned on grieving. Next week I plan to spend the one year anniversary of my Mom's death with my Dad. I trust Doug. He knows me. For instance, he is able to tell me when it is time to close the books and go to bed; or, that my problems looks so overwhelming because it is 5 o' clock; or, even, that I am frustrated because of where I am in my "moon cycle." So, I have decided to trust Doug. Perhaps, I am not lazy, sick of Graduate school, seasonally depressed, or "coming down with something." Perhaps, I am grieving. I have had clearer times of grief. There have been times when pain help me reassess my values; times when it hit me that Mom was separated from me by time and not distance; cathartic times; maudlin times; angry times. If this is also grief it is the worst form. A final whimper. Grief as a dull tooth ache, a sense of futility, the realization that death is also mundane, that it can become as weightless as those other things we cling to for meaning. Grief found in remembering how good that cup of coffee tasted after leaving my Mother's death bed. I refuse to believe that this whimper is how the world ends.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Mother would often wake up at 3am. I would sometimes be woken up by her dull smoker's cough and the sound of her poking the fire. She wrote poems. Notebooks filled with poems about killdear, Kmart, San Francisco, and our gray barn. When I was 7 she published these poems in a book, Pale Ponies. For years I gave copies out to teachers and I wrote poems "like my Mom." We could both be undone by a lack of praise. My Mom wrote poems and songs; painted and sketched. Yet, she didn't have the nerve to promote herself and often suffered from the lack of admiration. We are often cruel about the works of beauty that others produce. The "great artists" find a patron that is pleased with their power to possess this beauty. But how many ineffable pieces of beauty have rotted in old barns, been painted over, been tossed aside, or destroyed by their own creator. To know that virtue is not always rewarded, that beauty is not always praised, that wisdom is often scorned is part and parcel of adjusting to the world as it lies. Although, genius tend to demand acknowledgment regardless, spurred on by the belief that if the goodness is great enough, the talent audacious enough, that it will succeed. And, who am I to question that such will often does breed success?

But, beauty is often treacherous. This is what I think when I am told sanctimoniously about our need to replicate the creativity of God; that artistic production is good for us, for everyone. Creativity is close to our source and because of this there is danger in bringing it to the surface. Creativity is not just force it is also fragility.

I wouldn't want this to stop anyone from creating things. But, all truly good things exact a cost. Creativity is not any cheaper than love or grace. Our offer of creativity, like our offer of love, requires that we rely ultimately on grace.