A few weeks ago, my Romantics students and I had a pretty great class looking at This Lime Tree Bower My Prison, by Coleridge. While I am by no means a die-hard Coleridge fan (I'm more of a Keats girl myself), I loved working through this poem with my students, and I was particularly touched by the notion that, if you're open to it, you can find beauty anywhere. This concept of openness is, I think, a useful one, and one that I try to engage with daily in my life, especially during challenging times.
The week after my encounter with the Lime Tree Bower, I started chemo, and my wise and beautiful friend Peta (who's had her own experiences with the Big C) somewhat telepathically reminded me that being in gratitude can be a powerful healer. And indeed it did help me, in the weeks after the chemo treatment, when I was feeling like I'd been run over by a bus, to focus my energies upon the things I was grateful for, both great and small, rather than just feeling sorry for myself.
The love of my family, the care and compassion of my community, my gorgeous farming-lady, the surprise of finding a pair of pink borage blossoms among the blue, a day-bed in the sun on which to lie, abundance in the garden, a flock of galahs flying past the window of my hospital room making a LOT of noise, good food, happy chickens, a swan-shaped troboncini-squash, sunny days, kisses from my kids.
And then one of the most unimaginable tragedies befell one of my most beloved friends: the loss of a child. My gratitude, instantaneously, was deepened, sharpened and tainted by grief. It's a multi-hued kind of feeling and it exists and operates on so many levels, and I am so so sad for so many reasons, not least of all because my dear friend is right now experiencing an unimaginable pain that I am so completely unable to ease.
I am deeply honoured that one of the things I made for little Lucien is going to be used in his funeral rites, and I am crocheting and writing now to ease the pain in my heart and also to honour the love that his spirit inspired. I wish I could do more, but I can't.
This blog is a journal of sorts, and I felt that to continue writing posts about craft and building a cooking and living without acknowledging this tragedy and the shift of emotion it has provoked would be a betrayal. So here it is - a little garbled, perhaps - my musings upon sadness and love and grief and gratitude. It might not seem like it, but they're closer friends than you might think.