Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cardigan

Tonight, I couldn't speak to you. So I fixed your cardigan. Is that why you left it behind? I wondered if you were cold, right then, at that moment, wishing you'd taken it with you. I took it off and put it in my lap. I got out my sewing kit and spent a long time closing up all the holes around the neck. Lots of tiny stitches, more subtle than words are. While I was sewing I thought round and round soothingly, "that's better... That's better... that's better." It will be hard to see it was ever torn at all. I was sad when it was finished. There should be a way to stitch the night closed. Nights without you are a slow unravelling.

Inshallah... inshallah... inshallah...

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

cake, pie, and the beat of life

The terrible irony inherent to blogging is that, invariably, one will tend to blog when one has the least to say. By 'one' of course, I mean 'me'.

I usually blog when I am bored or, at the very least, quietly miserable. Occasionally I blog when I'm annoyed, but only by the world - never by people. I can manage a cold and coherent anger toward the world I never achieve on a personal level. Rage when it's hot, much like love, completely spins me about and pushes me over and makes me useless to the English language. When I have much to report, my head is so awash with words I am reduced to dead silence. And you know what? Not only in the virtual world either... I say very little in general.

So, yes, as you must have guessed by now, I've been very 'spun-about' of late. I don't know where to begin. I don't know where to begin to separate what is for my personal emotional digestion and what's appropriate to share with a (potentially) infinite audience of strangers and almost-strangers. But here goes....

Since last 'confession':

I have suffered the strangest and most virulent case of 'writers block' ever. Usually I consider 'writer's block' an indulgence. In this case, it more closely resembled a week-long, soul-eating virus (although it should be observed that anything that stops me writing I first classify as 'writers block' before any further analysis, even when the 'thing' could more accurately be described as 'depression', 'having a job', 'falling in love - again' 'having a small child' or being 'severely sleep deprived'... lol). Anyway. Usually when afflicted with an inability to write, I am spending my time on less worthy pursuits, like reading, socializing or watching films. In this case I did none of those things. Outside of the daily motherly grind, I did nothing. Literally nothing. All day, I did laundry, cooked, shuttled Isaiah back and forth to nursery, played with him and cleaned up his 'accidents', half-heartedly took calls from friends and then - at the end of the day, after I'd put Isaiah to sleep - I would slump down on my bed and stare at the ceiling for 3 or 4 hours til my own bedtime. Sometimes I would take a break by staring at the wall. Or closing my eyes and staring at the insides of my eyelids. I didn't even listen to music. Everything felt dead. I felt the way an ice pole must feel when all the juice is sucked out and it is forced to confront the reality that it is, after all, just a lump of ice.

And then, in the midst of this leaden immobility, I received a phonecall from my mother. The tone of her voice right away put me on edge. The tone of her voice told me to 'sit down' without her having to actually say the words. In fact, what she said was, 'please don't take this badly but...' My mum can never bear the idea of any of her children being hurt. Nevertheless, she couldn't get around the responsibility of telling me that my cousin, first-cousin, my dad's brothers' son, had committed suicide the day before. He was dead. He had killed himself.

And all at once my head went from cold to hot.

In my free-write the following week, I wrote something like 'every youngdeath is a chunk out of eternity'. I felt like the very stuff of my childhood had been rearranged, everything was different in the backwards light of this happening, everything my cousin was became a life capped by suicide. I didn't know he was depressed. I didn't know he was suicidal. I didn't know him that well at all, in fact. He was just one of the warm and comforting mass that constituted my 'family', bonded by blood and countless family functions and snatched conversations and subtly mirrored facial features. But in some ways it's harder to grieve for someone you don't speak to everyday, month, or even year... There is no obvious change to your everyday life because they are gone. However, because of this, the pain you feel is right away deep. It is right away a blood-deep, bone-deep pain at a child you grew up with, a part of the family tree hacked away, with no surface-pain to distract you from the agony and no-one to really understand what you are feeling. It is hard to articulate even to yourself why this loss rings so loud. I suppose part of the horror is that we always think we'll have a chance to know these warm faces properly - someday at one of these gatherings, you'll have a chance to find out who they actually are. But no. He is gone, and taken all his secrets with him, and he will be at no more gatherings.

The Lord giveth, and He taketh away.

Hurricane Tomas raged in the wake of my cousin's passing, laying the land low in time for his funeral. Such Destruction hasn't struck St. Lucian in my father's living memory. I sat in London, helpless and afraid, as my heartland was rearranged by death and the elements. I struggle (still) to make use of myself and plan a fundraiser, despite my jangled head. (But it will be done! watch this space for details and also information on where to donate). Thankfully, my extended family suffered no further losses of either people or property.

A long on-and-off affair found itself in a cul-de-sac and I, in the cool clarity of despair, declared it finally OFF.

And then, the way earth is sometimes made more fertile by being burned to ash, a few shoots sprang out of this blasted landscape. A new book idea, fully-formed, vibrant, began flying out of me... Creative opportunities turned up - highly unexpected and exciting.... romantic opportunity - highly unexpected and mind-boggling... and most of all, the opportunity for my son, my beautiful, mischievous, clever, robust little boy, to meet the side of the family he'd never seen before. A beautiful and giving grandma sent us tickets so we could be officially absorbed into the family for Thanksgiving, and what a wonderful tribe it is! He fit. He loved them all immediately, and they loved him. He came back with his Ghanaian grandfather's drum clutched under his arm, whispering "shake your booooooootie! shake your boooooootie!" LOL. St. Lucian (mother's side) British (2nd generation) Guyanese (paternal granny) Ghanaian (paternal grandad) and American (where entire paternal family lives) cultures are all his to express and enjoy!!

Oh, and all the pie! Wow. The pie. Sweet potatoe, pumpkin, pecan... and then the cake! Baked cheesecake and black cake and most killingly of all, red velvet from the cakeman in Brooklyn... my mouth would have cried if it could!

Giving thanks for thanksgiving... :-)

And then we arrive back in London to a tube-strike and snow, a freezing flat and an implausibly big electric bill... ahhhhh.... no place like home. Lol. C'est la vie, eh? :-D

Giving thanks for everything. There have been losses and gains, but through all of it, under all of it is the beat of life itself, all the complex rhythm of humanity, joy and suffering, and love. Deep in my soul, I know my cousin is cradled in death the way every living thing is cradled in life. As Rumi says,

'The soul at dawn is like darkened water
that slowly begins to say Thank you, thank you.

Then at sunset, again, Venus gradually
changes into the moon and then the whole nightsky.

This comes of smiling back
at your smile.

The chess master say nothing,
other than moving the silent chess piece.

That I am part of the ploys
of this game makes me
amazingly happy.
'

:-)

Gem xx