Solace in the Studio
When I arrived in Florida at the studio, upon entering the “Compound” as we lovingly refer to this enormous space, I was greeted by Mark and Kathy in a 3 way embrace and a prayer was spoken. I broke down in tears as did we all. There is grief for them just seeing me. A person they have grown to know and to love, still so wounded and fragile. There is also a profound grief because they never met Lindsey.
I have had the experience now a few times of feeling somehow responsible to “introduce” Lindsey faithfully to people in my life that are very dear to me but because everything between us happened at a breakneck pace many never got to meet her and the special US that we created together. Each “introduction” I come away very wounded and have a setback and this time even into a depression.
How can I try to express the essence of someone as lovely and layered as Lindsey?
Am I a “responsible” and accountable somehow in this chapter of my life to even try?
I am beginning to see that it is Grief trying to be in charge. I am going to try in the future to just trust and know that what we had was actually Real. It needs no defense. To trust the amazing people in my life to let me just express the narrative naturally, organically as life presents opportunities for the story to unfold. Whenever I feel beholden to do something because of Grief, I am beginning to realize not much good will come of it and likely just another setback emotionally.
All I can do with Lindsey, all I can do is everything I did before she died. She does not know anything about what she missed. She does not know that she never had children. She does not know we never moved to Texas and she began that new job and life there which we were so excited about.
What she knew every day since May 2nd 2014 until December 8 the morning she died is that she was Loved Well.
Mark and I talked before lunch yesterday as the process to complete the vessel to hold her ashes is moving along. We started today with a special prep for the final sanding and finish on the vessel and discovered an area that will need some additional work too.
Near the end of our lunch he said to me ‘John, can you say out loud something back to me?’
‘“Can you say to me, I give myself permission to move on , to move forward?” I started to weep and said, ‘I just hate having to move on, I do not really want to move on.”
It felt like the scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams says to Matt Damon “It’s not your fault.” Over and over and over he tells him “It’s not your fault” yet Matt cannot bring himself to believe it even though he says every time “I Know”.
I know I am moving on. I know I cannot do Anything But move on. Rationally. Intellectually. But the heart has a timetable for deciding to let go too and it wants somehow to believe in the impossible. But it is a fools errand.
I give myself permission to move on even though it’s a hard thing. It’s what I am doing already. It’s why I am here in Florida. It’s why I drove 1400 miles to be with Mark and Kathy and all the dogs here.
There is healing in this place. We create from dead wood things that defy description.
Beauty from ashes as it were.
While we are working together on something special to hold Lindsey, our labor is also rewarding us. I have come not only a long way to get here from Minneapolis, I have also traveled miles further from the blackness and horror of griefs clutching, gnawing hold on my heart. I feel renewed. I feel I am getting stronger. Weight I had shed is being put back on. Mark who has been so sick with a nasty cough and still recovering from a huge surgery last year too is looking stronger. He has not worked much at all in over 4 years due to various setbacks with his health. We are helping and healing each other, together.
Mark began the process to complete this vessel which his father Mel began before he passed away in 2000. He then did what we call “hand-off” and I have done the sanding on it starting at 180 and then 220 and finally to 320 grit papers. I have done most all of this work alone in his studio.
There is a solace in the studio unlike any other place in the world for me.
There is space. There is silence. There is work and there is contemplation. There is intention and sweat and the sweetest of tears. As I move thru the grits to take the scratches away and smooth out a rough place on the piece, I feel too my hearts own scratches yielding to the tide of time.
There is memory and remembrance. Lindsey is so present with me while I am working. Sometimes while sanding, I feel in the curve of the vessel a connection to Lindsey almost physically.
She was my perfect size 8 curvy girl.
I remember telling her so many, many times that she was perfect. That I adored her body and her curves.She would smile and brighten. The little giggle she gave at my appraisal of her physically always made me laugh and smile too. Initially she tried to make me take it back when I said “You’re Perfect”. It did not feel right to her because of how she felt about her body and also what she felt about her past. But I never stopped telling her and she finally stopped asking me to take it back. She began to have regard for how I regarded her and she actually worked out harder than ever. Not because she felt she needed to for some vain reason but because she was literally Free from the nagging presence of her “imperfections”. My voice became the stronger presence in her life, our love broke the power of her self loathing.
These are some of my memories of the Power of Love. How our love did things to change each of us. How that bedrock gave us a firm place to stand.
The US that we built upon that rock made our individual dreams and goals seems so achievable and so within reach that we dared to dream things that were daunting, seemingly impossible, if attempted alone.
We ventured out from that rock knowing that if we hit a snag we could always retreat and find our footing once again. I have ventured out from there now. Alone.
There is no retreat possible to Our Rock. The tide has swept it away.
But I KNOW it was there when she left to be with God.
The Love we shared.
The love we made together.
That love propels me now into an uncharted future. One made much more complete because of Lindsey.
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