Jumbled, but here I am

by Susan on Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Almost two years ago mom and I started this project together. I think it’s some of the work I’m most proud of to date.


From “One Minute Smile,” 2013, Performance

We knew that her terminal illness would eventually take her life, as it did on January 6, but she didn’t live the last three years like she was doomed. She lived them one day at a time. Every day was a gift.

With the funerals and parties over, I return to the to-do lists and backed-logged emails. Though transformed, I’m mustering the energy to pick up the pieces and move forward, or as forward-ish as I can manage.

I googled “how to manage grief” and “am I depressed or is it grief?” to keep things on track and to make sure that this thing doesn’t spiral. I found the bullet point checklists strangely consoling. Talk to friends, exercise, write in your journal. And remember, these things take time; everyone deals with it differently; be good to yourself; it may be hard to concentrate and be focused, they say. All things I know, sometimes easier said than done.

I also look to art that snap me out of ambivalence and into some clarity. I’m reminded of the human-ness of this endeavor – the primal need to scratch something down, create something out of sorrow, joy, and suffering. The act of doing something, however simple, is transformational. I’m renewed in my belief in the process, and I can hear my mom tell me: if it takes more energy to frown than be happy, trick your brain and smile.

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