Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We are more similar than different

"Tell me something who could ask for more, than to be living in a moment you would die for?"

I've made a decision. I'm going to take a short step back from bead making. March 2 will mark five years of bead making for me, the last 18 months of it full time. I'm not giving it up. I have hopes of making beads for years to come, not to mention glass enough. It's just time to stop breathing it and dreaming it and thinking it so much of every waking minute. I have not been able to pace myself. My right arm hurts, the left side of my neck hurts, my head feels like it is not properly attached to my spine.

I'm not sure yet if I am taking an actual break, or cutting back on the days and hours I melt glass. I do know that I want to bring other things into my life. I want to lose that extra 20 lbs. I've been hauling around these last few years. I want to do some things that make me feel less isolated. I've a natural tendency to choose solitude over sociability. But I fear it is making me a less interesting person. I want to invest more in experiences and interactions. I believe in the long run this may be the key to my creative growth.

Details at 10. Or whenever I know them.

I just finished reading a book that moved me very much, The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith. I found her story on Kelle Hampton's blog. Kelle you may remember is the author of Bloom and her blog, Enjoying the Small Things, went viral after the birth of her second daughter, Nella, who has Down Syndrome. In amazing photos and appealing prose, Kelle chronicles her story with an emphasis on how we all are more similar than different. The recurring mantra of her story is that when you start looking a little harder for the beauty in life, you start seeing it a little more clearly.

Kelle gave birth to her third child, a son, on Valentines Day. To give herself and her family time to properly welcome this child, Kelle has chosen to intersperse her own blog posts with posts contributed by women and writers who she admires. Claire was the first. The day after I read her blog post, I went to the library and checked out her book. I read the book over the course of two days. Her story riveted me. She lost her mom to cancer when she was just 18 and her father died when she was 25. She was the only child born to her older parents, although her dad had children from his first marriage.

Claire tells her story within the framework of Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross's five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and, acceptance. She writes of the years of her parents' sicknesses and deaths and of her coping (or not coping) mechanisms, and ultimately of making her peace with the past, at least to the extent that anyone ever is able to do that. (I think of The Great Gatsy, which I recently re-read, and its ending thought, through the voice of Nick Carraway, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.") I cried with her through the story. While I think no one could read her book unmoved, my own history with grief and depression allowed me to literally feel her pain.

That isn't necessarily a good thing, but it's not necessarily a bad thing either. There is a part of me that doesn't want to completely lose the feelings, which is the reason I've held on to my own written chronicles of the darkest time of my life. My story is different from Claire's. I lost my father just two years ago and I lost my mom to dementia shortly thereafter, although she still is alive. My story is long, much too long for one post, so I may share it in bits and pieces. It's about my lifelong relationship with anxiety and dysthymia, self-esteem and loneliness, with a couple of flagship episodes of true despair. So I guess in that sense, Claire's story is my story too.

Right now I'm grappling with writing a letter to Claire. I feel like she just bared her soul to me and it would be rude not to acknowledge and validate her sharing of her journey. But somehow writing the letter has led me back to my own story of sorrow. I find myself needing to touch it again, if only to remind myself never to take my present happiness for granted. I never knew I would end up here. For so long, it seemed as though any story with me in a starring role could end only one way, could only play out as a tragedy.

For ten years now I have known love and joy. My children are beautiful and kind and I think they are proud of me, as I am proud of them. My husband is bright and funny and adorable and I trust him, I trust his love for me. My little grandson is a source of constant wonder and happiness.

While I'm grateful that life isn't a television drama, I can't help thinking about Maggie Smith as Violet in the Downton Abbey drawing room, reflecting that we don't always get our just deserts, as (unbeknownst to her) Mathew bleeds out on the side of the road. Because, you know, I'm very fond of desserts. Which is why I have that 20 lbs. to lose.

I've made mistakes, had dark days and pain in my life, and since it is life, after all, it is inevitable that sometimes there will be sorrow.

But right now, at this exact ten seconds of the universe unfolding, I choose to believe that everything that happened up until now was just to bring me to a moment in time when I'd be happier than I ever even imagined being.

"Ashes to ashes
Dust into dust
I'll lay beside you beside you forever in love

And when they carve my stone all they need to write on it
Is once lived a man who got all he ever wanted
Tell me something who could ask for more
Than to be living in a moment you would die for."
(Ty Hearndon)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz