Broken Beauty (and a Blogiversary)

HPIM3617
Our Backyard, January 2012

A little fuzzy, a bit off kilter.

I chose the picture for its timing, not its content: I took it almost exactly three years ago, in the backyard of the home my husband Jim loved–the place where he lived, was loved, and died. Our children and I would move to another home months later.

I began writing this blog in deep, raw grief.  I notice now that photographs I took at the time featured a disproportionate share of broken things–including the colonial-era picket fence that curved gracefully around the front of our home.  As I nursed a broken foot inside the house, a speeding driver screeched off the road in light snow and crashed right through it, with enough momentum to fell a granite post that had stood for well more than a century.

But there was beauty in the breakage. Jigsaw shards of silver ice glowed atop sapphire water. Unadorned tree branches withstood hurricane-force winds and laced the white winter sky when the sun came out again.

With my third blogiversary careening down the tracks, I’ve been ruminating about the purpose and process of blogging.

A fellow blogger, Derek Bell, has an evocative blog, Playing in the City with Trains, in which he draws quite a bit on family and memory. He posed some great questions about writing.  The new year–my fourth at the keyboard–seems a good opportunity to tackle them:

(1)  What are you working on?

My site stats tell me I have a whopping 182 blog post drafts.  They’re about everything from the color red to the soundtrack of grief.  I’m also revising what I wrote for my children in the months after my husband died, but it’s difficult to revisit and yet more difficult to revise. I had a different voice then, belonging to the person I was at that time; it’s daunting to try to figure out what voice to preserve for my children.  Procrastination has in this case generated some unique new challenges.

I also have ancient drafts of fiction in the legal thriller genre–much of it inspired by my day job.  I don’t know if I’ll ever finish revising them, but rather than looking upon them as abandoned, I’ve decided to think of them as safely “gestating.”

Continue reading “Broken Beauty (and a Blogiversary)”

Disbelieving Dark

 

Messenger (c) October 30, 2012

“Just because you don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it isn’t true.”

A  strangely compelling Boardwalk Empire character–a World War I  sharpshooter who carried his talents back to a morally complex civilian life during Prohibition–dispensed this worthwhile advice at an Easter gathering.

A fellow blogger whom I count as a cyber-friend writes movingly of her own life, love, and loss of a beloved mother.  She wrote this morning that, surveying the bright colors of visible reminders of el dios de la muerte, she wishes she were “one of the haunted.”

She does not receive from her the mother the signals she hoped to receive–those elusive thin spaces in which she still can feel her presence.

I do not consider myself a believer in the afterlife in a traditional sense.  But I am unquestionably  haunted. I recently fled one haunted home, but remain surrounded by what I choose to believe are signals from Jim.

After my husband Jim spoke of his diagnosis with pancreatic cancer, one of our friends looked at him–a young, outwardly robust, healthy man who betrayed no sign of illness, let alone such a devastating one–and said, with a hint of the abject disbelief we all felt, “The good kind or the bad kind?”

My ever-unflappable and good-natured husband replied, with his trademark wry grin, “I’m not sure there is a good kind of pancreatic cancer.” Continue reading “Disbelieving Dark”

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