Stopped by our local Post Office this afternoon to chat and renew my P.O. box. Who wants a pen pal?
Stopped by our local Post Office this afternoon to chat and renew my P.O. box. Who wants a pen pal?
Posted by Sarah on February 5, 2014
So I’ve been working on this post about a meditation technique I wanted to share with everyone, but that’s still in the hopper— it’ll have to hold. Instead, I wanted to tell you guys about this thing I’m doing. It’s actually all Marianne‘s idea, and it’s AWESOME, and you should DO IT WITH US.
Right. I’m excited. Who can tell, though, really?
It’s called A Month Of Letters. Who doesn’t miss real mail? Not fliers, not gas bills, but letters, post cards, honest- to- goodness mail. Once upon a time I was a prodigious letter- writter. Fancy stationary gave me the shivers and a pen with the perfect pen nib was a subject I could argue over for hours but I’d take a legal pad and a mechanical pencil in a pinch, too— I wasn’t a snob. As long as there as a LOT of paper to write on, I really didn’t give a damn. I still have most of the letters I’ve received over the years, bundled up by sender and year; I don’t keep many things, but those, they’re like gold to me.
Here’s how it works: every day that the post is running, you send out a piece of mail to someone- a card, a letter, an Easter egg stuffed with goodies that you’ve covered with some stamps and an address, it’s your call.
Sam and I are headed to STITCHES West in a few weeks, which means another cross- country road trip. Part of my Month Of Letters includes sending Marianne some of the WORST postcards I come across, which sounds like it’ll be easy, but trust, every time I set myself one of these challenges, they’re always harder than I thought they’d be. We’ll see.
Anyway, my point: it’s not too late to get in on this, or even take it on next month. Want me to send you a letter or a postcard? Send me your address and I’ll write you. I’ll be packing a metric ton of stamps to take along on this trip, and all my favorite pens, but I’ll be sure to grab some of those mechanical pencils, too. I can’t promise what sort of mail you’ll get- or how legible it’ll be, I might be writing it in a van as we’re winding our way through Utah, who knows?- but I promise you’ll get mail, and mail with heart.
Posted by Sarah on February 3, 2014
Oh, 2013. You, you, you.
We really had no idea.
Let’s just get it out of the way: 2013, I’m glad to be nearly clear of you. I had high hopes, with a number like 2013- it seemed auspicious in that funnily backwards way, and I really thought it would work out for us. You’re a nasty, tricky piece of work.
There was the travel, ceaseless. Work, of course. My mother- in- law’s cancer diagnosis, oh god. Kiddo going to college- such a good thing, but an enormous transition for all of us, and hard. Family, mine, and oh, if it started out rough it only got harder; that post in April only brushes on how bad things really became. (Side note: never talk about family business on the internet, even if it’s 20- year- old family business; it’ll get you solidly uninvited to weddings. WINNING. At least I know where things stand? Actually winning this time, though, albeit in a very sad way.) There was the MS relapse, which led to the meds change in the summer, which is gong really well (winning!) but was more physically exhausting than I ever could have anticipated. Learning that they might have found something in Sam’s autumn MRI, which turned out to be fine in the end but resulted in a seemingly endless stretch of I will not think about this right now, because if I do, I will just start screaming and I don’t know if I will be able to stop. And then there were the external tragedies, which aren’t mine to address but belong instead to friends; the griefs we have seen around the people we love.
It’s been a brutal year, for us and for the people close to us. I find it amazing that back in the spring I thought we might be standing at the outer barrier of how much hurt and stress a human heart could hold at a single time; that seems so ridiculous now. It’s been helpful, too, though. Through all of this, there has been an ongoing exchange of kindness in our lives that has been so amazing and for which we are so grateful. I have always had a very hard time asking for help, and while I can’t say 2013 broke down that barrier forever, it certainly made some inroads.
So. 2013, you’ve taught me how to ask for help, some. And I’ve learned more about simplifying, obviously, because when you’ve got too much going on you’ve got to cut the chaff. I’ve learned who will be there, and who will be honest with me. I’ve learned how much I can actually do under immense pressure, as a civilian. (It’s a totally different world, trust.) I’ve learned what happens when I really push myself, traveling. (About two, possibly three less trunk shows next year- or less interpersonal stress. I can control the scheduling of trunk shows, at least, even if I can’t see every bump in my life coming.)
I’ve been looking back over the last year- how awful it’s been, how hard all three of us have worked, how goddamned gutting the entire go of it was- and while I’d never want to do it again, I’m so glad to have it behind us, I still don’t want to toss the damned thing out. I have this general feeling of “Good riddance, 2013,” and I do mean that- good riddance to all of that negativity, to throwing myself at closed doors, to wasted energy, to sadness and grief and exhaustion and all of it- but I’m also so grateful for the way this has brought people together, opened us up, and moved us.
I just wish things were easier lately. If not for us- I don’t expect an easy go right now, Sam’s mother is sick, and this is a part of living- at least for the people around us. It is just this strange moment for us, and I get that. Everyone around us seems to have such immense sadnesses in their lives, though- real moments of tragedy. Fires, death, addiction, break- ups, divorce. It is both heartbreaking (we love them!) and a really, strangely beautiful time— so many of the people we love are being so kind and careful and generous to each other lately. We all have so little of ourselves to give, so we give to the people closest to us, and we are cautious with one another, gentle, sweeter than usual, careful to communicate. It is beautiful, in a painful sort of way. People are remarkable. I love watching how we are, together. And so I’m grateful to 2013 for that, too- for the chance to see, again, how beautiful we are, even in sadness, even in grief, even in pain. We pull together. We lean in. We do the work. We love one another. We heal. We grow. We learn. We just keep our shoulder to that goddamned wheel and do the work.
Here’s to 2014: may it be better to all of us than 2013, whether is was a banner year for you or not. We can do this, hand in hand, as a community. We are all alone together.
Posted by Sarah on December 31, 2013
September has been good- a time to rest, clear my head. There’s been less travel- a trip to north for Parents’ Weekend (already, really?), but other than that, it’s been quiet. I’m grateful for the break, the lull before the madness of October- Boston, Rhinebeck (OMG, RHINEBECK!!!), all of it. October promises to be a joyful, colorful, but busy month.
I’m focused, all of a sudden. Well, not completely focused— let’s not lie, I’m never completely focused, anyone who knows me knows organization isn’t my strongest suit. But I’m coming to the end of the year, and that always brings me to thinking about renewal, about change. It’s a Thing, the new year- silly, all of it, but I Do The Thing, every year, despite secretly laughing at it behind my hand.
And so I’m looking at changes I can make, where I can apply myself, what I need to do, in which areas I can really work hard and get things done, and where there is no work for me. I’ve been putting so much of myself into certain areas that have no real space for me, and that is both silly and painful: I will stop doing that. I haven’t been putting enough of myself elsewhere, and I need to re- orient, beginning right now. I have work to do. There are places where I am needed: I will be there, and I will stop working so hard to be wanted and needed where there is no room for me. That seems like a recipe for disaster, or at least self- harm, and that isn’t how I roll. I’m smarter than that; it’s time I acted that way.
I’m clearing out everything, actually. We cleared out the back room to make a guest space for my in- laws; that was super- important, obviously. I’m clearing out my literal closets; no more waiting and wondering if the weight will come back, I’m pretty sure this is the size I’m sticking to, at least for the foreseeable future, so off to Dress For Success and Goodwill they go. I’m even donating books, because if it isn’t a reference book, or something I loan out or re- read, it’s taking up physical room in my home, and that sort of thing makes me feel weird and anxious lately. I want space, room, air, lightness. I want less.
Less. Less. Less of everything. I want a life that is free of stuff, and by stuff, I mean anything that isn’t actively used to enhance how we live.
Impossible, right? I mean, you can’t just not have things that drag you down. Some things are inescapable. There will always be taxes. People will always cut you off in traffic. Some folks will always be jerks in the grocery store. 105 degree days will occasionally happen. Those things are inevitable, and out of our control. Cool. I’m okay with the things I can’t control. I don’t like them, but I can accept them.
But I’m taking back what I can control. I don’t have to have things I need to dust. I don’t need to archive clothing that reminds me that my body is sometimes out of my control. I don’t need to eat up wall space holding on to books I have already read. I don’t need to wash or tend or worry over belongings I hardly see or use. I don’t need to be close to people who who don’t treat me with respect or who actively hurt me. I don’t need my CD collection from the early 2000s, for crying out loud, and it sort of smells vaguely of cat: I think that needed to go away a long, long time ago, guys. I don’t need to worry about attending events that bore me just to make people who bore me mutually bored while we talk about boring things. Those people are very nice, but they are not my people; I bore them, too. It’s okay that we bore each other and we really don’t need to go on boring each other perpetually just because it’s boringly pleasant to bore each other when we meet. We should pleasantly move on.
Here’s the thing: I only get so many hours. I don’t know how many I’ll have, but the clock is ticking. And I have so, so many good things going on. Amazing things, happy things, awesome things. Things I really only imagined I might ever have. These other things are all just distractions- and they aren’t good. They are major, unpleasant, frequently very stupid distractions. Sometimes, I just sit around and look at some of these things, being unhappy about them- but not doing anything about them, mind you, just… man, I sure gotta do something about those boxes in the shed, or I really, really don’t want to deal with x situation with x person any more, and I’m not sure what I’m getting out of this in the first place. It consumes time, and energy. It eats up Sam’s time and energy too, because he has to hear me talking about it.
Waste, waste, waste.
I can remove these things. I can refocus, re- orient myself. Hell, I can take the empty spaces that these distractions leave and fill it up with even more awesome things, or just leave myself space (imagine that, space!), or whatever- but whatever I do, I’ll be replacing something very negative, something bothersome or even distressing with something brighter, better, enriching. And that’s the point— to cull the distractions and to make room for things that actively make our lives better, because goddamnit, I know in a very real, very honest way that there are only so many days, hours, minutes, and I don’t want to waste this beautiful life. It’s just too much fun.
I can’t cut all the chaff. It’s just not possible- life gets in the way. But I can start, again, fresh, clean, with this little burst of energy- this momentum. While there hasn’t been a single inspiration for this return to purpose, I’m grateful, in a hurting way, for the multiple reasons behind the shift. I wouldn’t ask for those moments back again, but clarity is a never a bad thing.
So hey, October. I’m always glad to see the tenth month, but I’m looking forward to waking up in what’s always seemed like the most autumnal of months tomorrow. I intend to quietly, slowly, gently begin to sort though, and in part, tear up my life, beginning tomorrow morning.
That seems terribly exciting.
Posted by Sarah on September 30, 2013
There has been a great deal happening, folks.
Not writing, though. I think what has been happening is that there has been so much going on, I haven’t had time to process it enough to write it all out. I’ve got two posts in the hopper, but they aren’t quite ready for prime time.
Already, this has turned into one of those awful, “I’m so sorry I’ve been away” posts. Agh.
The short version: August was a frenetic blur, full of more than I could ever have imagined. Most of it was amazing, but the bad parts were worse than horrible, and I am glad I will never re-live that month. August 2013, you’re going down as one of my least favorite months ever. I’ll have more to say about that later, but for now that’ll have to do.
September 2013 looks promising, though. We’ll see. I’m working hard to be positive. Things have changed, a lot. Kiddo is gone, off to college, and we’re adapting. One of those posts is about that, a little, but I don’t know. As soon as I think I have a handle on that, on those feelings, they slip away from me and change. It’s a strange thing.
I’m here, though. Sitting with things. Fermenting, ruminating, thinking. Letting everything settle. Trying to sort through an awful lot of wreckage and see exactly how I feel about everything. I’m not sure, honestly. I’m not certain of a lot of things lately. Everything feels very unsettled. Not the important things: Sam, Kiddo, the studio, home, our key friends- but everything else? Christ.
I try not to stress, though. Instead of getting all worried- because really, what good does worry do?- I am trying to breathe my way through. I listen to Night Vale and make up silly stories in my head about the characters in my spare time. I play with the dogs, read my books, make lists, study painting, water my plants. Time will pass, my feelings will pass, and the facts will be there, clear, under it all. I just need to wait it out. This is how it always is, how it will always be: I just need to be patient, and my head will clear, all the mess of last month will wash out.
There are more important things, always. I’m well aware. Focus.
Sending out my not- so- clear message to the internet with the hopes that if your August wasn’t so great, you’re coming to a point of clarity soon, and that if you’re in the middle of a not- so- awesome September, that it passes quickly. Autumn should be brilliant for everyone, always. There should be a law.
Posted by Sarah on September 6, 2013
I’m back from Chicago, and oh, sweethearts, am I tired.
I’ll be honest, Chicago may not have been the best idea I ever had. Or maybe it was, I’m not sure. In all honesty: I had a fantastic time. I saw people I needed to see, people who filled my heart up, refreshed me, re- started me from the inside out. I spent time with the folks who remind me why I do what I do, and brought me back to some of my basics: this is what I’m all about.
Okay, but also: I don’t know if I have all of my physical reserves, these days, so there’s that, too. This whole Copaxone- to- Gilenya transfer isn’t complete yet, and by Sunday I was running on empty. Hell, by Saturday I was running on empty, really. I was a zombie for the ride home, and I’m writing this from bed as I take a true recovery day.
Tomorrow, I hop in my gloriously tiny car and head north to do a trunk show at the amazing Village Knitter in Long Island (I have waited so long to go here, I’m very excited), and then I’m off to Hartford for a few days, then onward to New Hampshire to take Kiddo to college. I’ll be gone from home for yet another week- My Life On The Road, I guess. More and more, it’s as though my home is the hotel.
I like this frantic traveling life most days, but this schedule has been a bit much. I knew it would be hectic in August- I’ve had my calendar in front of me for months now, shaking my head every time I looked at this month- but the reality of it is more than a little daunting, and I don’t even want to talk about what October is going to be like (but I’m going to, anyway): trunk show up north, wedding up north, Rhinebeck, trunk show up north. There isn’t a single weekend I’ll be in Baltimore.
I do this to myself, of course. And I love the work, so am I actually complaining? Not exactly. I’m more trying to muddle out a way to make this more enjoyable. So here’s the thing— I love love love the work, the part where I’m meeting with people, whether it’s the trunk shows themselves or the actual meetings, or just meeting up with my friends and colleagues, wherever I’ve landed. And let’s be real about this: I love moving about, traveling, sleeping in strange places. That’s always been my schtick. I am not a homebody. I’m a living- out- of- a- bag sort of girl.
It’s the physicality of the thing that’s roughing me up right now. I need to do some things, and I’m just plain not doing them. Why am I skipping out on them? WHO KNOWS. Possibly just a serious case of Stupiditis, but I’m guessing it’s more a mixture of laziness, a latent belief I’m still invincible, and an overall desire to believe that if I just go along doing things the way I always have that everything will be fine in the end. Silly.
So: mid- year resolutions.
It’s a good starting point, at least, especially when on the road. I’m tempted to add more, but let’s just start here.
I have more in my head- there’s something kicking around, but it’s still a Think Being Thunk—- not quite finished yet. I left Chicago with a few things to mull over, actually, and was very grateful for the long drive home to chew them over. It’s been a busy year for major overhauls in thinking, actually. What’s that all about? I wish I were the sort of girl to lay it all on the positions of the stars, or something like that. Instead, I just get to say that 2013 has been a humdinger of a year, and it’s only barely half- done. Cripes.
I wish there were a weight systems for years. An app, maybe, or even just a webpage, although that seems a little outdated these days. You could type in major life events, serious internal revelations, that sorts of thing, and then hit Enter and see precisely: How Heavy Is My Year? You could compare them to years past, maybe even hypothetical years- dreamy years full of nothing but bliss, or horrific years you’d concocted just to make the year you’re in seem easier, I don’t know. An invention like this could be handy to put things like this into perspective. Someone tech- ier than me should get on this, right? It’d be pretty badass.
Oh, I’m fraying at the edges, it’s a fact, but it’ll all be okay. I have my knitting, I have a small flat and friends waiting for me in Long Island, and then, of course, Hartford, always my second home. I can never really express how tightly bound I am to that place. I’ll do my work, gently, and work on finding my balance again— again, and that’s really what’s tripping me up, and that’s the skill I have to master: I need to become an expert in finding my balance again, MS makes one need to become an expert in regaining one’s balance— and then I’ll rejoin my family, re- ground myself when we take Kiddo to college, which is its own entire thing.
College. I can’t even. That is also another post. Christ: that’s REAL. That’s NEXT WEEK. Oh, wow.
I’m tired, but happy, and a little confused as to how I’m going to fit all the good things I’ve got going on into my life, loves. It’s a good problem to have, and I’ve got it, and I’m trying to be grateful for it, even when it challenges me, because it’s always, always, always my goal to be a goddamned grateful girl: I know where I’ve come from, and I know what I’ve got, and I am so glad for every morsel. Thank you, world, for all of it- even when it exhausts me. I’ll figure this out, and I’ll figure this out in a way that doesn’t wear me down, too, because it’s no good to have all this goodness if you can’t be present in it and if you can’t be a part of it.
Be good, be happy, be healthy, all.
Posted by Sarah on August 14, 2013
I used to love the 4th of July.
It’s not that I get all Lee Greenwood about things- I really dislike that song, by the way, it creeps me out for a variety of reasons- I don’t. I was in the military, but I’m not a flag- wavy sort of person. Being in the military probably made me less of a flag- waving sort of person, to be honest, not that I ever was from the beginning. I love where I live, and I think this country- like many countries- is a place of infinite potential, full of infinite frustration, being run by people who are infinitely flawed, the way people are. It’s complicated, like most things.
I like picnics, though. And cookouts. I like being outside more than being indoors, always, so any holiday that involves getting together with the people I love, eating copious amounts of food and being outside? I CAN GET BEHIND THAT, folks. Plus, people bring their dogs to cookouts, and I am crazy about dogs. Bring me a dog and I’m almost guaranteed to make an idiot of myself. Ask my good friend Chion about last weekend, she’ll tell you: I can’t even meet new people without focusing on their dogs. It’s embarrassing.
I used to love fireworks, too.
There was a magic about it all; folks gathered on blankets and lawn chairs, all looking at the darkening skies, faces lit up in changing colors and glowing with anticipation, then wonder. Small children, mesmerized. It’s still a lovely thought. It’s just not something I can do any more. I miss it, in this distant, far- off sort of way. After Afghanistan, it’s different.
It isn’t a big and dramatic thing, not in the way people joke about, not in the way I see it shown on TV or movies. It’s this tightness, this constant awareness, a hyper- vigilance that sets in that I hardly notice, until I do. It’s the way I’m suddenly only thinking about Afghanistan again. It doesn’t become a thing until I can actually smell it, until I can smell the phosphorus or the gunpowder, and then it’s a problem, and then I’m not okay.
And that’s okay, I think, because it’s really only for a few days a year. I mean, it isn’t okay: it isn’t okay at all. It’s awful, and I miss that easy moment in the middle of summer when everyone gets together to watch the sky open and bloom into flowers. I miss being a part of the world. I hate that this is yet another way I am set apart, isolated, alone. I hate these two or three nights a year in which I am back again, in a place that is so utterly conflicted and torn. In which I am so utterly conflicted and torn.
I’ve learned to have a plan for this period. I tell everyone around me that I won’t be myself. I isolate to my closest friends & family. I engage in my best and healthiest comfort behaviors. I create little pockets, tiny happy nests on my couch and bed, at my kitchen table, in the sitting room, places I can go to do things that make me feel grounded and safe and here. Here is important. Here is what matters.
I know there are other people like me, going through the same thing today. Hell, my dogs definitely are. But it’s hard, on a long weekend when I’m hiding out from everything, not to feel very alone. I suspect that most of us who have come back from a war, any war, all of the wars, and are somehow different feel this way, regardless of the ways in which we have changed. So I’m sending this out- just a message, a statement: this is what’s happening with me today. It’s been four years now since I’ve come home, and it it’s not good, although it seems to get a tiny bit better every year. I think I’m mostly getting a tiny bit better at dealing with it, honestly. And if you’re going through the same thing right now, or if you know or love someone who is, I’m thinking of you today. That’s what today means for me now: today, I’m remembering all of us.
Happy 4th of July, everyone, no matter what it means to you. I hope it is as good to you as it can possibly be.
Posted by Sarah on July 4, 2013
This life, it isn’t always easy.
It’s legs that don’t work correctly, a clouded mind and hands that feel like they’re on fire.
It’s a husband with a rare and nameless blood disorder that’s waiting for the next opportunity to steal ability, thought and possibly his life.
It’s war, an endless war that takes my friends and doesn’t give them back or gives them back, changed.
It’s coming home from a war and never being quite right again.
It’s a family that isn’t quite mine and doesn’t want to be.
It’s a family that is mine, through marriage, and is hurting, and there isn’t a thing I can do about it, because bodies are bodies and cancer is a bitch, and all we can do is wait and hope and it is hell and I hate it.
Some times, this world is just one giant goddamned wall, and it’s all you can do just to lean your body against it and breathe.
And my loves, I’m here to say it’s okay.
Some days, this life is also me, showing up in Hartford, a broken and frightened thing, and being welcomed with open arms.
It’s a painter in a handmade Red Sox dress, editing wedding photos in the best bedroom in the whole world, dropping everything because I’ve called and asked if she’s home tonight.
It’s my nephew, a miraculously towheaded boy with a shy smile that could light an entire state, tiny as it is.
It’s an unbelievably sweet note from an brilliant and accomplished woman who hardly knows me, but is very kind to me.
It’s walking eight miles in Boston, because infusions are medical magic, and my leg came back. Oh, bless.
It’s one- man bands in parks on perfect days.
It’s the weatherman being wrong.
It’s ridiculous conversations with strangers, borrowing lighters and breaking tension.
It’s moving from the word okay to the word good, and from frightened uncertainty to tentative happiness.
It’s wondering whatever happened to Schnarl.
It’s not getting mugged when I came home that night, and instead letting someone use my phone and having a really short, sweet conversation with a guy who needed to call a cab in the middle of the night, in the middle of the city.
It’s having faith.
It’s a woman with a famous voice and painted arms welcoming me into her home and being my backup: there are no words, no matter how hard I try. She is a miracle, and always has been. I’ll never get over the luck in my life.
It’s feeling like you’re falling, you are helpless and lost and falling and realizing that the world has reached out its arms and caught you. It’s realizing that this happens, that it can happen, that you can feel as though you are falling or falling apart or just plain coming loose at the seams and it isn’t like the old days any more: the world will catch you this time.
The world caught me this time.
Forget everyone who ever let me down: I don’t care about that, or them, or any of it. I don’t mean that in a “screw them” sort of way- what I mean is that I literally don’t care about any of that, and instead I deeply, passionately care about everyone and everything that held me up over the last week. I’m not even beginning to cover it all. I can’t even come close- last week was a Week of Weeks- but the love and luck in my life by far outweighs any negativity. I am, and have always been, a very fortunate girl.
When people who know my story ask me how it is that I am so happy, this is what I will tell them: I am happy because of all of the small, beautiful things, and because some times, when you are falling, the world reaches out its arms and catches you.
Posted by Sarah on May 17, 2013
Did you ever have so much going on in your life, so much constant motion, that you just felt frozen? Locked up? That’s how it is over here these days. I’ve been digging through my toolbox of comfort behaviors- all my mental health lifesavers- but nothing has been doing the trick. There’s no magical plaster for the amount of sheer madness happening in my life right now. I’ve tried to John Wayne my way through this monster of a year- oh, 2013, you just are not playing around, are you?- and I cannot do it.
I come back to writing because there is nothing left to do.
I’ve come back to documenting this life because there must be no other way out of this.
There’s too much, just all so, so much. Everything seems so huge, is the thing: there’s so little in my life that seems small right now, and that’s really what I crave: smaller things.
I don’t feel equipped to help Sam handle what he’s been handed. I don’t feel equipped to handle what I’ve been handed. I do feel inspired to open a small set of franchises, though: Silence Rooms, I’d call them. Small booths you can rent by the half hour, sound- proof spaces you can just lock yourself into and scream.
When Sam had his first stroke, I would go to Walter Reed every day. After the first few weeks had passed and we knew he wouldn’t die- but still didn’t know what the damage would be- I needed to be his primary advocate, but I didn’t need to be there overnight. It was a 45- minute drive, but I needed to keep myself together; it’s a freeway run from Baltimore to D.C., so you have to stay on your toes, and of course I wanted to be sharp for the doctors. I’d listen to upbeat music on the way down, see Sam, read his charts, study from the neurology texts Tedra had given me, talk to the doctors, talk to Sam’s roommates, scare the interns, that sort of thing. I’d corner his neurologist in the halls and push for direct “Yes/ No” answers, help new amputees play Wheelchair Jousting after-hours in the back hallways, sneak in better coffee or cigarettes for anyone who asked, and then, when it was time to leave, I’d go out to the parking garage, get in my car, take a deep breath, and just scream. I’d cry, punch my steering wheel, and inevitably, it would always lead to just- plain- old- screaming.
Other visitors would walk out to their cars, and they’d see me, and it always seemed so— natural. Normal. Sometimes I’d be the one who saw them screaming. It wasn’t embarrassing at all- and I hate sharing my private feelings with strangers. It just never seemed like the sort of thing any of us needed to hide; we knew who we were from seeing each other in the halls, or the dining facility, or the smoking corners. Family members know one another; it’s the grey skin, the shaky hand, the burnout eyes. Yes. I see you. This is us. This is how we carry this fucking thing. There was nowhere else to go, no place to take grief and put it. You can’t take it home where your kids be frightened by it, where your neighbors might overhear it. You can’t take it to your friends, who will never understand it and can’t possibly have the capacity to hold all of it. You can’t take it to the chapel- that’s not a screaming sort of place, and I am not a chapel sort of girl.
There is nowhere to scream. There really should be. I’m here to tell you, darlings: that place would make damned bank.
Of course- there is always an “of course” here, and if you made it that far, through all that dreary doom and gloom, the endless whinging, the rending of cloth and gnashing of teeth, all that drama above, you really do deserve some payoff, honestly. And so:
Of course there is something to what they say about growth and change under pressure.
We lean in, and in leaning in to the work of this incredibly trying late winter and spring, we lean into each other. We handle one another with care. We are all sharp edges and tightly wound springs, but we work on bringing out our senses of humor, on looking into our ability to take care of ourselves and each other, on how to be healthy. We look into how to best grow, and we watch out for which nights we need to give up on the idea of growth; sometimes what we need is 6 hours to give in and just marathon the hell out of Downton Abbey, because it is silly and complicated and really, a costumed soap opera and that is 100% okay, damnit, because it makes both of us feel better for an evening. We snuggle our pets. We eat too much comfort food. We talk, when we can, and we don’t when we can’t. We hold hands. I knit. He weaves. We drive, endless long drives to shows, and I read to him. We change. We change as a couple, learning how we manage these things, but that isn’t a bad thing; god, we have had so many hard times, but I’ve never felt they left us worse off as a pair.
I wonder how this will change us, in the end, once we have come through to the clear.
I’m beginning to make up lists of things I’d like to do, once we are in the clear, but I think that’s another entry. (SO MUCH another entry. Oh god. All of the many, many things.)
I know I am still rusty and jumbled today; all my pieces are still so broken lately. I’m too used to speaking my thoughts lately, mostly from the safety of a two- person blanket fort. Give me time.
Be well, Patient Readers. Be kind to someone who is patient with you. Be patient with someone who is kind to you. Hug everyone who will stand still.
Posted by Sarah on April 30, 2013
When something horrible happens, it is natural to feel helpless. Stopped. Frozen. There’s no procedure for dealing with something horrific, no checklist for coping with a tragedy. We become locked in shock and grief.
I find myself restless in the face of horrible things, full of purposeless movement. I fidget, fret, pace: I need a place for all of this energy.
There’s no way to fix this, to mend what went wrong, but I can take my restless energy and apply it to something positive. As I do every time I am sad, or frightened, or in grief, I take up my needles, sit still, and breathe. I knit through it all.
A group of people have gotten together with the goal of knitting and crocheting stuffed comfort creatures for the surviving children of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. They will be working on knitting and crocheting approximately 600 small creatures over the next few months. It is a small effort, but it is done with love and compassion. In the end, these things are really what we have: this is what heals us as a community and as individuals.
If you are interested in joining us, we would welcome more hands. The work of hands is healing; having something positive to focus on provides some direction for the anger, hurt and grief that so many people are feeling right now. There’s no way we can repair what has happened here, but we can do this one tiny thing: we can sit and work, we can stitch in compassion and love. We can create: this is something we can do. This work in specific will provide a small, sweet gift to a child: a handmade reminder that in a world that can be so very ugly and frightening, there are also strangers who are full of kindness, whimsy and compassion. These things matter- the little things, they count too.
The project is called 600 Monsters Strong For Connecticut, and you can find us on Ravelry. If you are short on yarn, no worries; there’s a yarn donation thread. If you need a pattern for an adorable creature to make, the amazing Rebecca Danger has even offered a discount on some of her patterns for this effort.
Looking for other ways you can help?
You could send notes and cards here:
Sandy Hook Elementary School
12 Dickenson Drive
Sandy Hook, CT 06482
The United Way has started the Sandy Hook School Support Fund to provide help with funeral expenses, counseling and other services. Donations can be sent here:
Sandy Hook Support Fund
℅ Newtown Savings Bank
39 Main St
Newtown, CT 06470
The Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims Relief Fund has raised more than $73,750. The fund will be administered by the school PTA, and will be used to provide counseling to survivors, pay for funeral expenses for victims, create a scholarship fund for the school’s students and fund a memorial. Donations can be sent here:
Newtown Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 596
Botsford, CT 06404
The family of Sandy Hook’s principal, Dawn Hochsprung, created a memorial fund for the educator, who died trying to stop the gunman. Donations can be sent here:
Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund
CT Teachers Credit Union
P.O. Box 2121
Waterbury, CT 06722
Be well. Be safe, be healthy, stay warm. Hug your children. Tell someone you love them. Forgive a friend. Call your parents. If you have the time, join us in making a cuddly comfort creature for a child. But please, but above all: be well.
Posted by Sarah on December 18, 2012