"You are the stuff of stars...Twinkle, twinkle."
Today, June 6, 2016, marks her one year anniversary. A year ago today, she passed away. A mother, a grandmother, a Nebraska farm girl, an artist, a lover of morning coffee and garage sales, watered down martinis and lefse with codfish. Like all of us, she was anything but perfect, but she had her own brand of brilliance and beauty. Her laughter spilled over onto any in her orbit, her heart, while broken, was immense, and she loved those she loved with a fierceness and loyalty to be envied. After she was gone, those left behind mourned her loss even as they gave thanks for the end of a painful and often messy "walk home".
We all mourn in our own ways. In her poem, The Vigil, Ann Staley calls mourning "that ancient form of love". That is the best definition I've ever heard, because it roots our sadness in something deeper and more tenacious than our sorrow. This one year remembering of the loss of the mother of my dearest friend, Kristine, has gotten me thinking about how we mourn those we lose, and how we remember them once they are gone.
After her mom died, Kristine found herself in her garage art studio at her potter's wheel, stamping words of love and affirmation into her clay creations. The words were ones that her mom had spoken in her last days, and the ones that those gathered around her began saying to one another. As Kristine said in an interview for the inspiring blog, Next Act for Women, that studio in her garage became a "sanctuary" for her grief.
Today, a year later, the pottery that began as a way to mourn, has turned into a way to make and share her art. Beanpole Pottery has moved her from the depths of mourning into the morning light of remembrance. Not that her grieving is done, but it moves through her differently than it did a year ago.
While how we mourn and remember those we lose is personal, the need to do so is universal. But in a culture that values speed and distraction, mourning can get lost in the shuffle. But it isn't really lost, it is just buried underneath the rubble of our everyday commitments, responsibilities and activities. Untended, grief doesn't leave of its own accord. It moves in and takes up residence. It takes up space, leaving less room for things like peace and grace, forgiveness and love. There is a cleansing, a clearing out, that can only take place when we choose to allow ourselves to fully enter into mourning.
Kristine chose her art studio. What, where and how I choose to mourn and remember will be different, as it will be for you. But, as we find our own unique ways to turn sorrow on the wheel of grief, eventually, over time, it too will become a sacred work of art.
Kristine describes her beautiful porcelain pieces as perfectly imperfect. Which pretty much describes her mom perfectly.
Written in Remembrance of Darlene
Staley, Ann. Instructions For The Wishing Light. (Seattle: Booktrope, 2013), 109.