Word Medicine

Writing and Healing: exploring the art of healing and the healing of art

Facing It November 5, 2015

Filed under: aging parents,Chronic Illness,Grief,loss — saratbaker @ 9:58 pm
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Autumn LeavesIt is dark November–gray, wet, the yellow and red leaves slowly drifting to the ground. I have always liked the melancholy of fall, its rich colors and long nights, but this year the season is not just a metaphor, but also a lived experience. I am in the fall of my life, and what I seem to be shedding  are my illusions—that death is not real, that summer lasts forever. Friends are dying, and children have grown and left. Many of my friends have been thrown up on the rocks of middle-age unexpectedly single, or having been laid off of jobs they thought secure, or, like me, are dealing with chronic illness. There is a general zeitgeist of shock. How did this happen? How did it happen to me?

Life has not turned out as expected.

Why are we surprised? We’d heard rumors, but chose to disbelieve them, children of a golden age that we were. But now, our feints and slights of hand no longer work.

it comes home, the flea-ridden bitch of desolation,

a thin dog with its ribs exposed like a lesson

in mathematics, in subtraction; it comes home, to find its bowl

empty—then the numberless

things for which to be grateful dissolve

like the steam from a fire just doused with water

on a day of overcast grays, lined

by a cold slanting rain—

(from “Facing It,” by Eleanor Wilner)

 

Yet, being alive, we still want to live—although how to live is the question. Jason Shinder in his poem, “Middle Age,” addresses the dilemma:

 

Many of my friends are alone

and know too much to be happy

though they still want to dive

to the bottom of the green ocean

and bring back a gold coin

in their hand. A woman I know wakes

in the late evening and talks

to her late husband,

the windows blank photographs….

 

Do we know too much to be happy?

Perhaps not happy in the way of our protracted youth.  We can’t unknow what we know, what we’ve experienced. There are losses and they are real. I think we are supposed to feel them, not minimize them. They are a part of our story, but not our whole story.

A friend thrown over by her husband ten years for a girl his daughter’s age has found a new, surprising love.

A friend laid off in the recession has been rehired and is now a senior and respected teacher.

Children have children; our street is full of the next generation.

Fall is a season, but not the only season.

 

 

 

 

 

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5 Responses to “Facing It”

  1. a hard reality, Sara, that I have been facing too…but I take a smile from an old French Canadian film I saw years ago…when one of the characters said to her aging companion, “Autumn is just the other side of spring…” Still full of color and delight. Thank you for this post. –Sharon

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gross, Nancy Says:

    Sara, I love reading your pieces. This one is a little dark, but a reminder that we, I must face it. How did it happen? How did it happen to me and the one/s I love? I am in the thick of it too and finding something/many thing each day to be grateful for. But admittedly, fear and reality creep in. There is much to enliven us, but he halcyon days of our youth have past. Thank you…. ________________________________

    Like

  3. Nancy Gross Says:

    Sara, I love reading your pieces. This one is a little dark, but a reminder that we, I must face it. How did it happen? How did it happen to me and the one/s I love?
    I am in the thick of it too and finding something/many thing each day to be grateful for. But admittedly, fear and reality creep in. There is much to enliven us, but he halcyon days of our youth have past. Thank you….

    Like

  4. Ann Says:

    And then again why not me. It is hard to deal with the realities of aging, poor health and family issues. And some are lonely which is the worst of all. But, we’ve made it this far and that was not a given! Oddly enough, during the worst of my illness I found gratitude for the good things in life easier to access than I have when I was well and feeling strong. It’s a very thought provoking article. Thanks.

    Like

  5. Penny Mclanahan Says:

    Dear Sara, I finally got Brancusi’s Egg and I would love to know how to communicated more privately with you about it. Penny

    Like


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