The Once and Future Carpenter

My life is led by poems, quotes, and song lyrics. As a creative, I identify with an array of artistry. Just one of those is the written or spoken word. Hence, this blog is very cathartic for me. I often think “this platform is for me, but if it speaks to someone else, that’s just a secondary positive outcome”.

Today is a hard day. A day sure to be filled with the gamut of emotions. Mom’s birthday is a wonderful day of remembrance–of all the things she was (is), of what she taught me (us), of her interactions and relationships with others.

It’s our third thanksgiving celebrating without mom. One while she was in hospice, two after she passed. That first year was the worst–but we had our family all together. The next two we graciously accepted the invitation of some of our dearest friends, family really. But this year is different. Mom’s birthday is Thanksgiving. It’s happened a handful of times over the years. So we come together as a family again this year. Part of me is sad not to be with our friends this year–but I know that this is what we all needed (in different ways).

There are many things to be thankful for this year. For biological family. For chosen family. For the growth 2019 has brought me. For actually feeling like an adult some days. This year has brought lots of realizations about who I am, who I want to be, and directions for the future. It’s brought new dreams, new connections, and new learnings. And I am thankful for all of it.

Mostly today I’m thankful for supportive and understanding people in my life. For those who reach out. For those who might not fully understand but still keep showing up. For those who don’t let the little things go unseen.

I miss you, Mama. Forever on my mind and in my heart. And though I said things to reassure you as you neared the end, as we spend time with Sweeps this week I get teary thinking of the things that you’ll not be here to enjoy with us. And that’s tough.

And so I’ll leave it with these lyrics. Today they feel all too real, and close to my heart. I love the Avett Brothers–today and most days.

Forever I will move like the world that turns beneath me
And when I lose my direction I’ll look up to the sky
And when the black cloak drags upon the ground
I’ll be ready to surrender, and remember
Well we’re all in this together
If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die

Family and “Family”

I’m a firm believer in making your own family–whether by blood, marriage, or friendship. There are just people you gel with, who’ve seen you at your best and worst, who know you to your core. These are the relationships I love and hold dear.

Today we got to spend the afternoon with two of our nearest and dearests. Time with them is always worthwhile, even when we are sitting in silence, watching the dogs in the yard, or cooing over Sweeps. They know my heartaches. I know theirs. They know my joys and dreams. And though not quite the same, I know some of theirs. We identify with each other over nerdy fathers, strong mothers, and the odd-ball choices our families make. We gossip. We play games. We make believe (more so when we were kids than we do now). We craft (boy, do we craft).

I am thankful always for people who knew Mom before she was sick–pre2016 really. But I’m especially thankful for the relationship that one of these two had with our Mama. Their own friendship and mentorship. I’m thankful for the way Mom accepted and loved both of them. And they way we all laughed and smiled and enjoyed time together. It makes me remember how much my heart longs for time together–it’s one of my top love languages. And when there are those you can’t spend time with physically any longer, it’s relieving to share stories and memories with those who knew them, no matter the stage.

A Very Happy “Un-Thanksgiving”

I have always loved holidays. Mostly, I think, because of the family time, traditions, and gobs of together time. I’ve realized this week that I am relishing the unique and non-traditional things about holidays now. Foods that are atypical. Activities that are a little off-kilter. This is what I thrive on now. But the family time (in the right amount of doses) and the chosen family time (when possible) is still essential. I am thankful for our time with family this week. And I am thankful for being together during a time with heightened emotions. I don’t want to do what we’ve always done anymore. Because with someone missing it isn’t the same and the tradition is lost and it feels flat, so to speak. And so we take on new holiday directives and experiences and surround ourselves with warmth, and light, and the people we love. And that makes me very, very thankful.

Through These Eyes

November is a heavy month. We roll into winter, often sooner than I’d like. The sky greys, the time changes, and everything seems to be starting its slumber. But the last few years I’ve been hyper aware in November. Watching for the Facebook memories to tick through some of the most grueling moments in my life thus far. Ticking through the moments of joy and celebration as well. An endless emotional roller coaster.

This year I realized I haven’t really been paying attention. I’ve been busy with school, and work, and working out, and trying to get my head on straight about all of the changes around me in different areas of my life. I haven’t been cognizant of my emotions or memories. I don’t feel like I’ve stuffed them down, but I definitively haven’t kept them at the forefront like I usually do. Not sure that is good or bad–it just is.

But earlier this week I was reminded about the anniversary of the passing of a dear family friend and it jolted me into my typical “November habits”. I texted Shelly one morning to let her know I was in a heightened emotional state (we have a “crying pact”). And I did some remembering of this family friend in hopes of sharing some solace with her daughter, which lead to this:

But I still hadn’t gotten to the point of fully embracing November. This year mom’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving. It happens every so often. So we will be together as a family. And a month or so ago I texted a handful of people and asked them to specifically reach out to me next week because I’d surely struggle (thankfully I have an even smaller handful that would/will do this without me asking). But last night I knew I wasn’t giving myself what I needed. I offered to do dinner with people in my cohort–most were unavailable or bailed at the last minute (totally okay). And I felt relieved, because I could just take time for me. I did. I went to the gym. Got tea for a friend and had a quick catch up. And went home and vegged on the couch with Shelly (who I’ve barely seen all week).

But I was reminded that I need to notice my emotions and the time of year. I need to consciously not forget. I woke up at 4am this morning. And I knew. I could feel my brain acting like a fly swatter saying, “alright, I get it. I see you. I feel you. I. Get. It.” Not terse, but tired. And so I start the remembering. Because she’s too important to forget. Because I’m fueled by emotions (the ups and the downs). Because I fully intend to be the same kind of spirit that tugs on sleeves, and wakes people during the witching hour, and refuses to be silenced. Because this is her time.

I see you.

The Gossamer Veil

I’ve always had a curiosity in things of the occult–before you freak out, let’s break that down a little. “Occult” comes from roots of Latin meaning “secret” or “hidden”. In ancient times the occult weren’t things that were feared or hush hush as it’s seen oftentimes today. Ancient religions and spirituality was strongly intertwined with things recognized as “occult”. And honestly, many religions have threads of the occult woven into their own practices as well. Those interweavings peak my interest. It’s maybe also why I love fantasy and fairytales so much.

All Hallows’ Eve is a holiday closely associated with the occult. It’s one of the many pagan celebrations that has come into modern tradition, and modern religion. All Hallows’ Eve is also back-to-back with All Saints’ Day in Christian tradition (only one form of back-to-back Christian and pagan/occult connections). Both holidays deal with spirits/those who have passed on. It’s often talked about the thinness between the human realm and the spiritual realm in the days bookending Halloween. I never thought about this much–not until I experienced great loss of my own.

I like to think of the thinness as a gossamer veil–it seems delicate and fragile and weightless. I’m not sure how people generally experience this time–I’ve seen many-a movie or television show that mentions it in some form (whether in passing or as a “knowledgeable” source). To me, it’s a reminder that there is much about the spiritual word that is secret, or hidden. There is much we don’t know–that dependent on your beliefs we may never know. But it fascinates me the traditions that we hold to make sense of loss and grief. It fascinates me the way we pay homage to or commune with those who have passed on. In whatever way, it’s a reminder that they never really leave us.