floof

A picture of a fluffy plant, by Grayson Queen

I walk every day because one time I went to prison, fractured my hip, and then five years later had surgery to correct it. Now it’s a mandatory part of therapy. If my body did not ache when I skipped a walk, I would not bother. I’m quite content to watch the outside from the inside, or to go outside only to sit on a rock and be absorbed by the sun like a puddle.

Just moving my body through space and time and city streets isn’t my first choice of activity, so I have to liven it up a bit. I imagine what lives just under the pavement. I make up stories about the people I see. I take pictures.

I used to be able to take pictures with my phone because it had an amazing camera, but that phone died during the bed rest of my surgery and I transitioned to a brand new older model of phone that takes pictures that are just so-so. I’ve been really excited about this because it’s forced me into using my real camera again. I am a creature of habit. Sometimes I need a nudge.

I fell out of practice of carrying my Canon with me because I had to use a cane and it became too difficult to juggle everything. I’m cane-free now, and that’s a joy I celebrate every time I can hold the camera in both my hands, crouch down, and photograph something.

The joy of the crouch, of the jump, of the unstilted turning around. The joy of walking without the soft click-clack-screee of my hip crying to my brain. I don’t think anyone else could hear it cry, but I could. I’m grateful it has had a healing.

Where I live, there are healing plants that pop up like weeds. Lavender and rosemary, mint and aloes, and these fluffy sticks, maybe natal grass, that my late husband was always able to photograph better than I. Light liked to do what he asked it to, but nobody said anything about that at his funeral.

Today was one of those high grief days. The ones where your lost ones come and sit right beside you. There’s comfort in that space between you, but then everything else– the hallway, the street, the sky itself, becomes space that seems too big to be real. It’s all unfamiliar, this world that has let go of your loved one.

There’s a hysteria you learn to swallow when a hand of your heart has gone to one world, and left the other hand here to take all the beatings on its own.

But a heart has more than two hands, I am sure. I like to think of all the holding yet to come. It calms the quakes.

So instead of panic today, I sat with the feeling of him right next to me. I told him about being able to garden again, being able to crawl around on all fours and pick weeds and meet snails. I told him about my heels and how I’m learning to walk again.

I told him how I’m happy, and the sunlight poured through the window and gave me a hug.

Light has always liked to do what he asks of it.

37 thoughts on “floof

  1. Powerful. Your vulnerability and strength of fortitude and resilience remind me of a favorite quote:
    “Nothing is so strong as gentleness. Nothing so gentle as true strength.” ( St Francis de Sales)

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  2. Hear there is an app you can download that will identify the plant you are photographing. Not good at reading long posts but nice writing in first 3 paras. Keep it up.

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  3. I lost my Grandma about a year ago, (possibly almost 2 years ago at this point, time is slippery) but when she died I was dealing with a whole bunch of other trauma at the same time and was never able to properly grieve. Now that I have my own place with my husband again, the grief has found me. I had an unexpected grief day today while going through my phone and clearing a whole bunch of junk text messages.(ugh, election season) I had cleared my Grandma’s number from my contacts, but didn’t realize that her text messages would still be there. I found them today. Her last message to me was responding to me saying that I was sorry that I couldn’t make it to family get together because I was sick and telling her that we’d find a time to get together soon. Her response was to let her know when, that we could have pizza and that she loved me. We never got to have that pizza because life and her illness got in the way, and I was hit by such a strong wave of regret. I thought I had already grieved, so these unexpected grief days or moments are catching me off guard.

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    1. Time is so very slippery. I think grief is pretty slippery, too. It sort of just wiggles in and out. Which is why time is pretty irrelevant to grief. We never stop having lost a love, and sometimes, somedays, when we have the heart to hold that truth– we do. Big hugs and love.

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  4. Grief is certainly a thing. Some days, it is spiney, with sharp teeth and fangs. Other days, it’s fluffy, like that plant, and it holds you gently as you sigh.

    Interesting that you mention grief. I had a dream about my dad a couple days back. It was the first time he actually spoke to me in a voice I could understand. I don’t remember the timbre of his voice, but I do remember the movement of his face as he spoke. We have the same crooked smile when being ornery. I see his face in mine, even though his face has been gone for almost 26 years. The last time he spoke in a dream was right after he died: his voice wasn’t right then as he tried to adjust to what had happened. After that, I would only see him in dreams and he never talked. Eventually, I didn’t see him at all. I haven’t had a dream with him in it for at least 20 years I would hazard.

    May you have more fuzzy plant grief encounters than spiney sharp ones, my friend …

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    1. Yep, grief is a little shapeshifter. 🙂 I’ve heard from many people that, like the nightmares that were common a few months ago, the visits from loved ones departed have become fairly common too. Interesting how the world breathes together. I love you that you got to hear your dad’s voice. Big hugs, AR. Sending love always.

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  5. Some can indeed ask the light to do wonders. Your words are like beams of light that tell a story of warmth and pain, and all that lies between them. It’s comforting and comfortable, it’s hopeful, but not at the cost of forgetting. Thank you for your work, Ra!

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    1. Thank you, Anmol. That’s such a lovely thing to say. You know… *goes into naggy nudgy mode*… November is National Blog Posting Month. Will we see a revival of you as a Pepper? A poem a day? 😀

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      1. Thanks for the reminder, Ra! That was so much fun — it seems ages ago now. I don’t think I’ll be able to participate this year, what with all the pandemic blues and continued unemployment. 🙂

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  6. So eloquent. I need to take more photos. I stopped carrying my canon too, but sometimes I take it now. I cannot keep it in the car because of the heat. My heart breaks for your loss still. I am glad you are healing and able to walk without the cane. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dani. Life without the cane is so much easier. I’m often sad that it’s because so little is disability-friendly, but I’m selfishly grateful I don’t have to navigate it anymore. I miss your face. ❤

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      1. Omg, I SO miss yours too. I just did a photo book, hightlights of our last decade. It’s called Heartscapes and a full page photo of the three of us is in there. We really need to get together again soon. xoxoxoxox ps. I can send you the link if you would like to view it on your laptop. Would be tough to view on a phone. 🙂

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  7. “There’s a hysteria you learn to swallow when a hand of your heart has gone to one world, and left the other hand here to take all the beatings on its own.”

    Oh yes, this is it, just so, that hysteria. Since my husband died I’ve been trying to swallow that hysteria as well, that sense that half of me has become invisible because he held the other half of my memories and now that he’s gone, I can’t remember a big portion of my life, of my own self.

    Thank you for so eloquently describing it. ❤

    I am glad you don't need your cane anymore! That is more excellent news!

    xoxox *hugs*

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