9 January 2010
(I wrote this on December 14, 2009)
A small re-arrangement of items on the wooden table at the head of my bed came about due to a new lamp. It’s a weird lamp, with a partial shade around the bulb. This morning upon waking I looked up at the clock, but my eye was drawn to the tableau of 3 objects from left to right; the clock, then a metal picture frame (with a photo inside) that says Paris with a cut-out of the Eiffel tower along the right vertical side. Last is the lamp – still on as I was reading in bed this morning. Due to the shading, a spotlight effect occurred on one of the 2 people in the photo. The picture taken at my youngest son’s Bar Mitzvah party, (when he was 13) shows him leaning his cheek against my left shoulder. My head is stretched to touch his and the line of my neck is firm, taut, muscular, yet in shadow due to the situation with the lamp next to it. I can tell you all about my neck because I studied the picture intensely. Each cold morning when I tie on a scarf around my neck to keep warm I look at my 57 year old neck; the skin loosened and slightly wrinkled and showing age. I have wondered when this began. After studying the photograph taken not long ago, 6 years and 3.5 months to be precise, it is obvious that the slide began after the photo’s birth. This rather long introduction to the set up of items and my recent thorough perusal of the photograph, led to an extraordinary thought as a result of the “spotlight” upon my face. I would write a letter to the woman in that photograph.
Dear One, I complement you on your youthful appearance in the photo, then at the splendid age of 51. The photo was taken on the occasion of the Bar Mitzvah of your beloved youngest child, born when you were 38 years old. Little did you know then that two months later you would be further defined and honed by your cervical cancer diagnosis. And what is this all about for you? The fact that so much of what happened, what changed you, what forced you into new ways of being and thinking and acting are as a result of someone else, someone (your ex-husband) you once trusted and loved. But you have shown through these years to be a knife blade tortured into shape and fineness by the fire in which you’ve been dipped, immersed and re-immersed then hammered and re-hammered. The most recent depression you have triumphantly conquered has proven that you can manage yourself and your emotions. And come through even more of who you can be, given God/good spirits, clarity of thinking and openness of heart and mind to accept, to deal, to grow, to attempt to relinquish the negative in favor of the positive. In your Sayings file for your creative work, you have various folders to keep the chaos at bay, one of which you call, “change, courage, fear.” Isn’t this just like you to take the challenges you’ve faced no matter whether willingly or not, and turn adversity into something to build on, work with and use to grow. When you were much younger this quote defined you and your actions: “Courage is tiny pieces of fear all glued together.” -Irisa Hail. Which saying do you think best reflects the light shining though this commentary about who you’ve struggled to become? At first I voted for this one: “It seems necessary to completely shed the old skin before the new, brighter, stronger, more beautiful one can emerge…I never thought I’d be getting a life lesson from a snake.” -Julie Ridge Reading through the choices there were times you relied on this one – “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” -Mother Teresa. And what dear one, would you choose now, with which to go forward? “I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. “ -Agatha Christie. Well that’s about it. Good job and…keep on truckin’.
P.S. Does it matter so much if your neck is no longer youthful and firm? At least you’re alive to record the changes. And indeed, that’s a big something with which to be grateful, at any time, but why not now? Remember; “We are the hero of our own story.” -Mary McCarthy

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