This time I am wading through, these past weeks and now, this time of waiting and of sadness and reflection – this time, oh what a time it has become. What a gift. I know this as I experience it, and that, I believe, is one of the greatest gifts of all: to see the gift as it is given, to know the moments for what they are before they have evaporated and are gone.
I have felt, for the most part, like I am wading through deepest waters. Or, that I am rising slowly from the deepest dream, rising and rising up towards the surface and the light, holding my breath, kicking my feet, rising, rising, rising. But I am not yet fully awake, the dream continues, the sleep still blankets everything that I think and see and feel and do.my time here at home has been fuller than ordinary days, but quiet. quiet is a blessing. i've been up and down, inside and out; the days and nights, even my dreams, are one great big roller coaster ride. yet i manage, miracle of miracles, to get a lot of necessary work done. errands and artwork and class preparation are all rolling past in completion; i never would have imagined that to be the case. but the work gets done, and i end each day with a sense of accomplishment, albeit one of exhaustion and physical ache. my heart aches, too; but even that seems like something i would not take away. i recall telling an online friend, when i learned of his mother's passing, that with grief, somehow, there also comes a state of exquisite beauty. i remember this from the time wrapped around the death of my own brother ben: from that moment on, i felt a heightened sense of awareness, an acute realization of the beauties of this earth on which we walk. after telling this to my friend, i thought it may have seemed flippant, this written comment about beauty. grief is real, and consuming, can devastate and knock the very breath right out of us, will bring us to our throbbing knees. yet i still maintain that the beauty does come - it just may not seem evident in the midst of all that rocky, shaking sorrow, not for a very long while.i think that my gift right now, one of many indeed, is that i have had a lifetime of knowing my father, i have had the time that i did with him at home for those weeks when i knew he was on his way out of this life and into the next realm, wherever that may be. daddy still clings to life, but i and my mother and sister all feel that his days are very numbered; he is extremely weak, doesn't really drink or eat (and is fed by spoon, when he takes a bite or two), speaks of his mother and father looking for him (they are dead, long dead, they died so many many years ago), frantically wants to rise out of his bed (he is not able) and find a flashlight, go out in the dark so they can finally locate him there, a light in the dark arcing back and forth, up and down - a beacon, then, from him to them. he receives visits from other relatives and friends long, long gone; he has spoken of a man at the end of the road, a kind and stately man, named pete. this blows my mind. so many things do.roy was home last week, off and on, in and out (mostly out) with a friend he brought home from school; one of his projects for the time he was home to the mountains from the sea was to work on a documentary film for a study at school, something about the ways of the artist in southern appalachia. one evening before the last afternoon light faded (that "magic hour" he has spoken of, throughout his filming years), he set up the camera he had brought across the state from school, adjusted the lighting, focused and fussed and finally set me down in a chair up under all that artificial glow. questions were asked, and, staring into the camera, i answered them as best i could. what to say? i spoke of stories hammered into silver, i related my work to the natural beauty that surrounds me here in the mountains every single day. i thought about my words - the connection to my natural world, the way my jewelry pieces each tell their own little stories, the evolution of my work from simple to complicated and back to simple again - and the following morning i gathered what pieces i've kept for myself throughout the years and photographed them in the morning light. i don't keep much for myself; most pieces are sold. i keep the ones i have made for myself to wear on special occasions - graduations from high school, then college - and bring them out to place around my neck when i have a need to be adorned, to feel special. what an odd feeling it is to see these pieces as a collection - the progression of work, the change in style, the recognition of a common thread of design. when i finally, after four long weeks, came back home last week and began sorting out the disheveled surface of my overloaded studio table, i came across a necklace i had made for myself back in early 2004; i know this because the date is lightly etched into the inside of the sterling cover, a faint reminder of the time and the place where i happened to be in my own evolving life. the sterling wire binders had caught in a drawer, a few years back, and i placed it on a tray to be repaired. enough said, here: the tray was buried, the repairs were never made.what you see here is the booklace i made for myself back in 2004, when i lived close in town, in a home that i loved, a house on a grassy knoll with a wide front porch and a creaking wicker swing and a studio up under pitched attic eaves. the boys were younger, both still in high school, aspen was alive, my brother was alive, my father and mother active and full of clarity, full of spunk. i was younger - greener - assuming that life would continue to remain steady in all of its fat, ripe ways. at that time, i was consumed with the words of the 12th century persian poet, rumi; i carried a book of coleman bark's translated poems with me whenever i traveled, i read favorite poems to my students, i used his words on many of my jewelry pieces. the booklace here has been repaired and changed a bit; can you tell? the pages were intact, the cover as well; the broken chain and its components - the dangling and the wire wrapped gemstone beads, the little carved bird, the brass heart charm (thank you minnie) have all been repaired and further embellished this week. when photographing the open pages, with their words from rumi, i was startled by how strongly, how deeply these lines speak to me as i walk this current path. the walk is not easy. i place one foot in front of the other, one at a time, and the motion is an automatic, reflex move. one step takes place after another, one stride at a time, and the next thing i know, i've covered a mile, then another. i breathe deeply as i walk - but i do not run. i never do. there is the thinnest veil between the here and the there; this much i know. there is a very thin line, one gossomer thread that connects us from this life, this existence, this awareness, to the one that is waiting just on the other side. daddy hovers there, he lies right on top of the thread; his greatly weakened heart beats still, his mind goes in and out, but the thread holds on - briefly, for now. my greatest gift, and i know this too, is that i've been able to tell him how much i love him, is that i am able to prepare for this as best as i possibly can. life goes on. and so does love. it is a powerful thing, this love, and does not end, not ever. xo