Monday, August 23, 2010

So, Then...

Icarus Dreams
I was fairly wistful last week, and, I would even say, a little down. But, it was okay. I needed to allow myself to feel. Just because we have a positive outlook on life, doesn't mean we're numb to some of the more difficult aspects. It doesn't eliminate sorrow.

It began when I shipped John's ashes and his favorite Hawaiian shirt (that I made long ago) to Timothy. I had actually been looking forward to doing it. It has taken Timothy and me a long time to honor John's wishes. I felt good about it after talking to Timothy and hearing his plans. When it came down to it, the implementation sucked. There was something that felt so wrong about packing him into a box to be shipped. As if he was something to simply be sent away. Cargo. Plus, I've had the carved wooden box that serves as his urn (I hate that word) in my possession since a week after he died. There was something comforting about it - as if he'd never really left, or was not gone for good.

I felt unexpectedly bereft. Even a little lost. It did no good to remind myself that everything that was good about John was still safe inside of me. But, there's no turning back from a promise. So, I sealed the box shut and wrote Timothy's address on it. I brought it downstairs and told Steve I was ready to go to the Post Office. Once there, Steve grabbed the box, and I grabbed the lighter stuff that I had ready to ship. I watched Steve walking slightly ahead of me, so strong, confident, and beautiful, so loving and loved, carrying the remains of my late beloved, in a box addressed to Timothy. Irony is never lost on me. It seemed fitting somehow that he was part of John's final journey - the three men I love most in this world, Steve, John, and Timothy, all captured in one brief scene.

We walked up to the counter. My other packages were posted first, then came John. The postal clerk asked, "Anything hazardous, liquid, flammable, glass or perishable?" Perishable, I thought. No, the perishing has been done already. I realized that I must have hesitated a moment over long because I could feel both the clerk and Steve looking at me for an answer. "Uh, no," I finally said. "Insurance?" asked the clerk. Insurance. Yes, I want insurance that this man standing next to me won't go the way of the one in the box. I want insurance that he will be here until the end of my life. Again, finally, I said, "No. Thank you." "Okay then... $13.81," he said as he affixed the postage to the box and set it in a bin with many other boxes. I noticed that my hands shook as I pulled the money out of my wallet. I gave him the best smile I could manage, thanked him, and walked away with leaden feet. I noticed the way Steve's right hand brushed the small of my back as he held the door for me with his left. I noticed that the sun was far too bright. And all I had left in me, all I could think, was, "So, then...." Nothing more would come, except that. "So, then..." It was always John's favorite thing to say when he was trying to figure out the next indicated thing.

I adjusted. I took some time and wrapped my head around it. I made some funky-ish art and got the soul gunk regurgitated. I hugged Steve a few extra times (a worthy remedy for any occasion). It helped that the heat wave took a turn and a cold front moved in.

It helped, and it didn't help. The cool weather was cool enough to be a harbinger of the coming Fall. Everything artistic in me screamed for Autumnal colors and patterns. As always, a cool Fall day makes me think of my Dad. So, as I often do when threatened with emotional overload, I went up to my studio. I took down Dad's old box of pastels. It's been around since the 60's at least, and in my possession since 1982 when Dad died. In all that time, I never used them. I just like to open the wooden box and look at the glorious array of colors, relatively untouched by Dad as well. I've never used them, that is, until now. It occurred to me that the last time I held the box, opened it, and looked at the colors, I didn't consider myself an artist. I wouldn't have even thought of using them. But. Not. This. Time.

This time, as the scent of wood and chalk hit my nostrils and evoked the expected sneeze, I didn't just sigh, close the box back up and put it on the shelf. Instead, I grabbed my sketch pad and went to work. All that color. All that blank paper. I was lost - this time in a good way - for hours. All the while, I had Dad's voice at the back of my head saying, "There ya go, Punkin..." and could sense (more than see in my mind's eye) John smiling and nodding at me, and finally, Grandma weighing in with, "Vell now..."

I'm surrounded by ghosts, but they're my muses. They're the ones I turn to when I'm stuck on a project or when I need a little oompf in my inspiration. With the sorrow comes beauty. With love and remembrance, come color and shape. With allowing myself to feel everything, I have everything to give.


  1. Well now. I'm not as good with words as you are Barb. Al I can say is thank you for sharing. You made me cry - in a good way.

  2. I'm still grieving - holding it all in and everyone away. You are a great blessing and inspiring.

  3. Wow, Barb, you've got me crying. Thank you for being the open, honest person you are. Hugs.

  4. I'm still crying and so amazingly blessed to be a part of your world... Our love is endless!

  5. I dunno... I think I would have been re-e-e-e-eally tempted to answer "YES!" on the "Is anything hazardous?" question. JJ might have gotten a kick out of having a sticker slapped on him, for transit purposes, that marked him HAZARDOUS, lol.

    OMG: my indenti-word is "beatify"


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