After tragedy the shifting ground of a life that feels completely unfamiliar can make it feel almost impossible that anything can ever feel the same. In the months that have passed since the death of my best friend, I have found myself trying to rebuild a view of life and of myself from pieces that no longer seem to fit.
The futility of this effort has not escaped me and the exasperation and despair that comes from feeling a complete lack of control over anything has been enough to bury me at times. Digging out requires more energy that I have some days but I have reasons that motivate the climb no matter how hard it may seem at first.
Life can be very unforgiving and unapologetic about its abrasiveness.
Despite it all, there is always hope and a way forward if you are willing to stick it out and fight like hell to uncover it in the rubble that surrounds you. I could not see this in the beginning and the darkness swallowed me whole for days at a time. Even in the most barren soil, hope grows slowly and secretly like a seed working its way to the surface until we are able to notice the tiny slender sprouts that emerge – fragile… vulnerable.
So this is where I find myself – an unexpected gardener of hope.
The patch of earth I cultivate precariously resides on a fault line. The hidden fissures beneath me rumble and threaten to widen at any time. Will I lose the beauty that I have discovered (and created with great effort) to the chasm that could appear? Will I fall into that place again where I am lost to myself?
When I begin to feel the vibrations under my feet I hold on tightly. There is no other option.
To distract myself and keep focused I find that my hands and mind return intuitively to embroidery. The feel of the thread in my fingers and the tension – broken – in the fabric as I pull the colors together fills me with a sense of calm. I feel in control. I see beauty grow from nothingness. I feel capable of enduring.
This is a small gift – a reprieve.
In the gentleness of the embroidery process I find memories rise within me; I stitch them down into the fabric. I stumble on solutions to the challenges I face as I carefully separate strands and slip them through the eye of a needle. The repetition of the stitches align the chaos in my mind. What was intended to be simply becomes complex and vice a versa.
It is hard to make time for what feels so like an escape. It feels frivolous to make a space for this type of joy when so many other tasks accumulate on my to-do list each day. I fight guilt to sit and pull a hoop into my lap; most days, guilt wins.
I reason with myself and offer reminders that I am important too and caution that I have to care for myself if I can hope to responsibly care for others. Some days I listen. Some days I do not.
The hands I hold keep me moving forward regardless of what I choose but sadness continues to creep back in around the edges.
And so I find that with each day and each stitch I return a little to a new self and craft views of a future in which things will be more stable… of a garden that is full of growth and beauty once again.