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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Grief and black and white

Neglected garden animals
At first, I rejected the idea of participating because I don’t like participating in things. Grief has made me a curmudgeon. But I kept thinking about it. If I were to participate, how could I possible sum up grief -- my grief -- in black and white photos? It seemed an impossible a task. How could I possible capture the idea that half of me died when my eleven-year-old son Riley died three years ago? How could I possibly sum up the weight, emptiness, isolation, anxiety. How could I manage to capture my inability to make decisions, how seemingly small tasks paralyze me, how it's easier to give up than it is to try because tying equals failure. When trying to move forward equals several steps back. When all of it makes me want to hide in bed for a few more hours.


Tattered flag
Between coughing fits -- I'm several days into a cold -- the plant on the coffee table with its brown edges and drooping fronds etched with crispy patches caught my eye. It’s half alive, I thought, clinging to life. Overwatered. Drowning. I grabbed my phone, played with the filters and made it black and white; it looked unrecognizable with its sharp lines and faded spots. I feel unrecognizable, too.


Garbage from the orchard
I headed outside. There was tangled rope in a box of garbage collected from the orchard last weekend. I feel tangled, trapped, unable to move much of the time. I feel like garbage, useless, unwanted, a burden. Even when I'm reassured that I'm loved, lovable, wanted.


Dead plants
There were the broken wood animals, their missing ears and broken snouts. It started as a project with the kids the summer after Riley died. But they are neglected. The tipped over penguin, forgotten. Unloved. Alone. Hiding its face, avoiding eye contact, hiding behind others. How did this happen?


Tattered plastic
From there, I noticed all of the soil that used to be lush with tomato plants, zucchini, and basil. Now barren, neglected garden boxes are everywhere. If there is any plant life, it’s nothing like it's former self. Shriveled, crisp, dead branches drooping or parched and brittle. Uncared for. The rosemary bush continues to grow, but it looks stressed.


Webs and debris

Kites, once vibrantly reaching 30 feet into the sky, are tattered, torn, faded, limp. First seen at a house we'd rented for a week in the summer after Riley died, I loved how they sounded like sails luffing in the wind. I ordered several to brighten our yard. Now they, too, are garbage. Disintegrating plastic encircles the trampoline. The mesh guard on the sides is torn like a large mouth waiting to eat children who bounce toward it.

Hundreds of shriveled plums never picked cling to branches. How did we miss plum season? And fig season? And pear season? Dropped fruit waits for rats to nibble at its flesh.

Tipped over pots, any seedlings neglected and shriveled. Dirt in piles near the pots that wanted to give life.
Disintegrating garden art

Grief is everywhere. Neglect dominates. Barren. Unkempt. Untidy. Damaged. Broken. Turns out my yard is the physical representation of grief. It is so obvious -- I couldn't believe how easy it was to see grief all around me -- yet I had never seen it before. Shocked by this realization, I headed into the house. As I sat on the couch and uploaded my pictures, it made me wonder what else I have been blind to these last three years. 

1 comment:

  1. Mental health is as important, if not more, as physical health and it is so sad to know people often do not pay it the attention it needs. It is okay to talk about things that distress you, that upset you, and that keep you awake at night. TALK, because it's okay to feel this way.

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