Friday, October 16, 2009

Stations of the Cross

Tomorrow's the anniversary of when Dad moved out of his Philadelphia apartment and collasped in my sister's house. The day after that's the anniversary of when he left the hospital AMA to catch his flight west: the last time Liz saw him alive, the last evening I saw him without oxygen. The day after that is the anniversary of when he collapsed in our garage.

This is all weighing on me. I have five months of Lent coming up until the anniversary of his death, and it just occurred to me that maybe I should turn this into a creative project and try to generate my own stations of the cross . . . probably in the form of poems, since I lack the artistic skill to make visual icons. (Repeat ad infinitum: "It's all material.")

I have a friend who isn't sensitive to anniversaries at all. Her mom died a few years ago, and I asked her if that anniversary or her mother's birthday is difficult for her, and she looked at me like I was insane and said, "No. I don't even notice them." But the literature says this is normal, which reassures me.

If I post any parts of this project, will everyone stop reading the blog because it's too gloomy? And have any of you done projects like this yourself?


  1. Anonymous4:51 PM

    I don't think you're "out of whack" for noting the anniversaries. Because my birthday lands on my parents' wedding anniversary and I spent almost every birthday or near-birthday weekend of my child and adult live with them, all my angst and pain and regret gets channeled into that one day a year. But if that coincidence hadn't been the case, I'm sure I would have been and be more sensitive to other milestones/markers.

    You do what you have to. We're here for you. And of course, so is your knitting. :)

  2. One of the therapies for loss that my church has done in creativity and loss workshops are remembrance altars. Some have used poems as part of their altars. So I think poems or prayers set as stations of the cross would work in a similar fashion if each of them was a good memory. Honoring your Dad's life and the spirit he displayed in living is a wonderful way of remembering him. Afterall, he raised you didn't he? How much of his strengths and love of others are invested in the you of today?


  3. Creating "stations of the cross" in the form of poems seems really wise to me -- what a way to honor your own healing process. I hope you will post them here.

  4. The idea of making a collection of poems to reflect the stations of cross sounds intriguing. I would read that and not think of it as gloomy.

  5. Anniversary reactions, yup, I've got them. Projects, not so much. My process tends to be a "let it unfold" one and if I plan in advance, as for a project, it doesn't work so well. Journaling I've done but explicit projects, not. Sure, post them! From today's post I am sensing a kind of absolute determination on your father's part to make it out west; perhaps he had some deep inner knowing that his time was very short, and I'm glad he DID make it out to be with you, even if it wasn't the way any of you had hoped.

  6. As you know, I'm a pretty big one for anniversary reactions. I memorialize the anniversary of my mother's death every year. I haven't written any original poetry, and only a little original fiction, related to the death, but I have incorporated the poetry of others into my memorializing.

    Jewish tradition includes an observation of the passing of parents referred to as the yahrzeit. During the observation the mourner recites Kaddish in memory of the lost beloved.

    What I find interesting, and particularly comforting, about the use of Kaddish is that it isn't a prayer for the dead. Instead it is a prayer of praise of God and hope. It helps to counter the natural mournful reaction of blame by redirecting blame into observance.

    I have also found observing the stations of the cross to be a wonderful Lenten experience. While the churches I have done the ritual at have all had beautiful visual iconography to assist in the exercise, I have always found that the prayers themselves were where the real power came from. So I think your construction of poems would be a lovely tribute.

  7. Anonymous11:59 AM

    Dear Susan,

    I'm sorry to read that you're having a hard time these days - I hope life will look up for you as the anniversaries go by.

    I, for one, will read your blog even more often than I already do if I know that your poetry will be appearing here.

    Write some soon!


  8. You know my mom died a year ago last September. My current project was supposed to be just typing out the recipes from her three huge recipe boxes that my sister and sister-in-law had selected. It's turning into a heavily annotated cookbook with lots of personal commentary and family history. I'm having an absolute blast doing it, and especially love the section I just finished, entitled "Epic Fail."

    There ARE ways to take all those memories and turn them into something special that can and WILL bring a smile to your face.


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