Tuesday, July 29, 2014

August 7: full of life

None of us ever wants to experience death. In any form, it is a terrifying subject. The thought of ever losing a loved one can create such turmoil inside that we just draw the shades and keep busy. I did the same until I had to walk to the very edge with death. Holding my newborn daughter as she crossed over from life to death, screaming at my loss of control, of the inevitability of losing this precious little girl. Forever. Trying to choke down that moment; her touch, her hands, her tiny toes, for I would never see them again. My shade is no longer drawn because I saw it happen, I know it happens and will for all of us.

Fear of mortality can get us into all sorts of precarious situations. Denial for one, but more importantly a loss of presence. While I didn't used to, today I like slow days. I listen. I taste. I memorize all the ways my daughters moves, the way her hugs feel. Today I appreciate all my gifts; my family, my husband, my working legs. So much so that at times I feel I can't squeeze them into every moment enough. But then I remember to listen: to this moment and everything it gives me.

The idea that you should live every moment like it's your last, always seemed hokey to me. Now, however, I describe my life before Winnie and my life after Winnie. Before I thought I had a plan, and control over that plan. I know now that you never know what is around the next moment. All you have is this moment. The most important moment is now. So, what are you going to do?

As we approach Winnie's first birthday I think of life, not death. She brought us so much life. She taught us to listen, to move slower and to think about what is really important. I think of all the gifts she has given me. And of course, how much I miss her.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the shape of us

Just a year ago, my family bought our first house. Since then, these walls have seen a lot of transformation, both structurally and emotionally. The house has become something we have poured ourselves into with pride and drive. New shelves, floors, paint colors, a sandbox, a bar are all just a few of the things we have kept ourselves busy with. This house is our foundation. It provides security, warmth, a place to sleep and most importantly, it keeps us together. This house signifies our attempt at control. It is here that everything is in place. It feels; protected. Permanent.

The foundation of my most recent work has been destructed buildings. The idea and metaphor behind the use of buildings, is that these destructed man-made structures signify a loss of control, of impermanence, and also our attempt to control the environment. My own loss has showed me how vulnerable we are in this life, despite the structures, physical and mental, we try to employ for some attempt at control.

The act of building itself, says a lot about the human race. We build to protect, we build for growth and structure. Winston Churchill said; "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us." What do our buildings say about us? How do they shape us?

This house is neither permanent nor protecting from the harsh realities of life. But this past year, it has shaped us. Although we are still picking up the pieces, I believe life gives you what you need, and in our case it was this house. While all the mental structures that we had tried to employ at some attempt at control fell apart, this house has kept us together. And it is still standing.