Posts Tagged ‘grief’

04.16.21

Posted on: April 16th, 2021 by jmbroekman 2 Comments
16 hearts
side view of 16 hearts
head one view of 16 hearts

On why I hate this day.

If I were to play favorites with the days on a calendar, this one would be at the bottom of my list. It wins the prize for being the one day I’d like to wipe off the calendar altogether. Grief does that. It binds meaning to arbitrary dates during the year. This is the day, 16 years ago that my sister died. I will never stop missing her. Though the edges have become a little less sharp, the hole she left is as big as it ever was.

Destiny.

I think a lot about how the trajectory of a life can change in an instant. The war changed the direction of both of my parent’s lives. The path of each of my nieces’ lives changed fairly dramatically when their mother died. I wonder if who we become is inevitably and profoundly altered by the events we run up against. Probably.

But what if we are each planted on this earth with a specific destiny, and these events that change the route of our lives are in fact a course correction? Maybe we really are exactly where and who we are supposed to be at any given moment in our lives. These thoughts bring to my mind the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Clarence shows George Bailey all the ways that the events in his life shaped the person he is, and how vital he is to his community – how much may have been altered had he not put one foot in front of the other all those years and against all those setbacks to his dreams. Maybe there are specific lessons I was put on this planet to learn, and grief is just one part of my education.

Running a marathon

Months ago I read an article by Alex Hutchinson about how COVID-19 was like running a marathon. He wrote: “It turns out that, if you ask yourself “Can I keep going?” rather than “Can I make it to the finish?” you’re far more likely to answer in the affirmative.” This may be good advice in general: keep going, put one foot in front of the other, and eventually you will get wherever it is you are headed.

Whether grief is a marathon or a sprint, it will probably always suck. But as the young people will tell you: it is what it is. And while I would still like to erase this date from the calendar, for all that it reminds me, it is after all just another day on a rock hurtling through space.

The images included with this post are from a book I made this week for my sister. It includes 16 hearts – one for each year of her absence

04.16.17

Posted on: April 16th, 2017 by jmbroekman
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I am still trying to get it right, always.

In my more evolved brain, I realize this is an impossible task: getting it right. Whatever “it” is, and whatever “right” is. In April, when the days are longer and the moments of spring peek out from under the leftover snow, “it” is the darkness of memory. “Getting it right” is not letting it get me; an endeavor that appears to be a lost battle. No matter how I try to avoid it, or ignore it, or pretend it no longer exists, grief has a way of slamming me up against a wall every year at this time.

This year I tried giving in to it. I cleared my calendar/schedule, and allowed for some uninterrupted time in my studio, where I worked on writing my sister a letter, by way of a painting. Though I didn’t manage to finish the letter/painting, I did find a certain amount of calm and peace in the process. And I spent a lot of time with her favorite color: purple.

Fifty shades of purple

Purple, it seems, comes in an infinite number of shades and variations. I wonder, did Kukla prefer one that leaned toward blue, or one that was more rose colored? I spent the better part of this past week mixing at least fifty shades of puprle for my sister. It made me think of how hard it is to define what color any particular lilac bush is: is that the “true” color lilac? When I look at the image of the painting on the left – the result of all that purple mixing – it appears more blue than purple; and I suspect there are those, including Kukla, who might argue with me about whether or not you could call this a purple painting.

While I’m not sure I got any of “it right” – the purples, the paintings in general – throwing color and paint around did at least keep the grief, if not at bay, at least in some kind of manageable perspective. The fact that little purple flowers are popping up all of sudden, helped too. I still miss my sister with all my heart and soul, and am beginning to accept that longing as simply a part of what life has handed me. Now the key is to integrate that understanding into my being with some grace.

And special thanks to my friend Debbie Schmitt, for bringing me a box of pansies yesterday, which added to my purple arsenal, and inspired me to get out my watercolors and start a new batch of flower drawings. ‘Tis the season.

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