Some thirty years ago, during the height of August heat, I began a very painful journey of grief. It was a time of divorce. A beloved sibling abandoned every friend and almost all of our family,shortly after a move to the East Coast.
Even though there were words of false placation initally; a few years became a decade, then two, and most recently three. I ached with greater intensity as hopeful futility became one of the few emotions I could express.
Since that summer I've mourned a little less each year. The love of dear friends, and candid converstions with mental health professionals have enabled me to respect the mystery of each human being. Maybe this is the only way my sibling can cope with the aftermath of an early marital disappointment.
Each morning, before I make my bed,I read a quotation which helps me accept the finality of loss. It was written by author Victoria Moran:
"Don't reach for feelings when they start to subside.
They're meant to go, and you're meant to go forward."
Shortly after my last post I decided I wanted to honor my "needlepoint bucket list." I wanted to write posts more frequently. And I wanted to share my needlepoint experiments with a wider audience.
Yet I suspected summer grief might impede my strong intentions once again.
Consequently, shortly after Memorial Day, I knew I needed an amazing summer of surprises and distraction.
I began watching a variety of sunflowers (hand sown seedlings and nursery starts) grow timidly all through June, bathed in foggy mist.
Some grew massive centers and rapidly keeled over within a week. Though short lived, I was amazed by the transitions of hue. Tight, clenched, emerald green seed husks quickly matured as they became hard, dark brown casings pointing like bullets toward the shy.
All the while a simultaneous process occured. Those handsome manes of mustard yellow petals we instantly label as "sunflower," unfurled with swift rapidity. Long slivers of buttercup yellow thickened each day, coiling outward as each successive smaller row joined in.
(As I watched I couldn't help thinking about the leggy chain reactions of the New York City Rockettes - one limb following another right down the row!)
My Teddy Bear sunflowers were purchased from my local nursery a few days before the Sunbright sunflowers wilted. They basked in the heat of our long July and August days. Though I missed the singular, dark brown centers of a Sunbright plant, steady fountains of multiple blooms were equally alluring.
(Teddy Bear sunflower)
During this last week of August, abnormal hot humid weather in Seattle has stretched the endurance of many citizens and plants. Brackets of sturdy green leaves have turned ashen. They are covered with musty, dull sage green hues. Their edges have become translucent brown tissues. Yet all plant stalks remain prickly with erect resolute postures.
The hidden grace of my summer potted garden has been twofold. Tending a few sunflowers has diminished a long term pattern of seasonal grief. Now, they shall remain accessible within new permanent memories of daily floral observation.
For me, the blessing of needlepoint is similar to the process of making jam. Additional sustenance is provided through preservation.
This weekend I shall paint a few leaves on pieces of mono canvas (18 mesh or smaller) to replicate specific, unique details in tent stitch. Then, while August's palette is so fresh in my memory, I plan to applique them to a painted background of larger scale.
The newfound joy of this summer has encouraged me to leave old emotions where they belong - in the past.