Happy Spring to all of you. Here we are in April. Hurray. And phew. Winter felt a bit like moving through mud on my end, and I did not have a lot to say, or that I wanted to write about.
And now here we are with bright colorful things popping out of the cold, dark, ground, and life is beginning to feel different.
In the fall I did something very difficult for me. I asked for help. Oh, lord does that strike terror in you, the way it does in me?? I called my dear friend Carolyn, a friend of almost thirty years, and said "Carolyn, I am nervous about getting through the winter living alone, with Covid isolation and this grief I am moving through, IS there any chance you'd want to come to Santa Fe for a month or so?" She said an immediate "Yes!" Holy Moly.
Carolyn arrived at the end of January, with her giant rescue mastiff Priya who is two, to my household of two cats and two dogs. We didn't quite know how we would integrate the "zoo", but it has gone well, except for occasional bouts of grumpiness from Gus, my old orange cat. There were days I felt bad, "Oh Carolyn, I am so sorry, I feel like I am going to be a sad lump forever. Carolyn would sidle up next to me, put an arm around me, and say something to the effect of "I don't think so, and it's okay if you do." For the next two months, we read books together, made fires and dinners, took many delicious hikes and walks with our herd of dogs all around the mountains of New Mexico, and spent time in the studio together. I didn't feel like I would ever come out of the 'year of grief'. I actually worried that my mouth was going to get set in a sad expression forever.
P with cats
But here it is spring, and I can feel things are shifting, and somewhere along the way I stopped feeling like a sad, pathetic lump, and Carolyn and I have had endless fits of giggles in the kitchen , and conversations that range all over the map, not just about grief, on our long walks.
Thank you dear friend of my heart. Thank you for the many, many things you teach me, especially about presence and love in this world. And here is a note to any of you suffering from grief out there. Be Brave. Take a chance. Ask for help. And with enough time, and walks, conversations, hugs, tears, chocolate, days spent in pj's, and kindness from others, one day you may find yourself in a different place.
Interestingly Carolyn and I have both been into working on art pieces that involve sewing.
Carolyn in the studio
Looking back over the past year I see how many threads and pieces have helped sew my heart back together. My nephew Gabriel getting stuck in Santa Fe, and living with me for seven months, his lovely girlfriend Faridah, my children of my heart Acadia and Ryder coming home to live last summer for four months as a pod, with their wonderful partners. Family dinners in the garden.
Garden projects. Incredible online classes with Gina Rae La Cuerva, Pam Houston, Mirabai Starr, Natalie Goldberg, and Roshi Joan Halifax. Melissa's brother Peter who sends me love and support through texts. All of Melissa's friends who have been so caring and openhearted, David, Katrina, Sarah, Jenny, Tami, Maggie, Libby, MJ, Nancy, many of whom I have not met, but have sent loving messages. My patient loving friends who have always been there with a shoulder and an ear. My emotional support kitten Agnes. My siblings who have reached out with calls, and kept me laughing and connected through it all. If you are reading this you are NO DOUBT someone who has been a ray of sunshine to me in one way or another. I am so grateful, and I hope when grief comes to you, because it does come to us all, you will remember "Oh, Bettina has been there, she knows grief, she will sit beside me right now."
a piece Carolyn found from the website of Alan Jacobs:
The novelist Maggie O’Farrell:
" Working on her current novel, she needed to know something about embroidery, which she’s never done in her life, so she asked a friend. “We were looking at this beautiful thing she had made and she turned it over and the back was much more complicated, quite messy,” she says. “In a sense that’s what grief is: you turn love inside out, like a sock or a glove, that’s what you find, isn’t it? Grief is just the other side of love.” "This reminded me of something Vision says in WandaVision – a series about which I have mixed feelings: “What is grief if not love persevering?” Indeed it is; but, as Maggie O’Farrell suggests, the perseverance is awfully messy, full of loose ends and tangles. Grief is love that can’t present a composed and ordered face to the world. " -Alan Jacobs
( for now)
may you all find some extra rest