She tells me she has a Norman Rockwell picture in her mind. A picture of family gathered round, everything and everyone cozy, food abundant and delicious, a picture that is perfect. The picture is not her own (it’s Norman Rockwell’s) (it’s one you might see on social media). I tell her our Thanksgiving wasn’t Norman Rockwell either. It was me and my three, quiet, contained, without fanfare… lovely. It was three walks sprinkled throughout the day, it was writing early in the morning, it was reading, it was cooking, it was the four of us gathered at the kitchen table. Not fancy but just right. A painting no one else would hang in their home, but one that hangs in my heart, gallery enough.
He tells me they have Covid. The first day I hear the news, there is some worry. Miles between us, I’m unable to leave soup at their door, unable to pick up their groceries, unable to do anything but call. On the second day since hearing the news, the worry dissolves as we talk and I hear that they’ve both rested better, eaten more, they are now laughing. And isn’t laughter the best medicine? I wonder how Norman Rockwell would paint a scene of trying to love and support with phone in hand and two state borders between. A picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps we spoke as many over the phone, her voice a little hoarse and ragged, his voice stronger, strong enough for the two of them, and how do you paint laughter anyway? The sound vibrations imprint upon my heart.
He tells me he loves mountains as we hike along the river. I know this, of course, we’ve talked mountains before. His love like my love, an awe, a desire to climb to the top, to pass through trees and arrive upon a ridge where trees no longer grow, where there is low, shrubby growth instead, and all around for miles and miles is expanse, breathing room for the eye and heart. We’re not in the mountains on this day though we hike high above the river, look down, peer through trees, sometimes stand at the edge of a cliff. Picture perfect, even though I’m not interested in perfect. I think Norman Rockwell would like it, mother and son standing high above the river. I know I liked it, still do, as I recall our afternoon together. Memory, a story lived twice (and more), the heart a painted canvas.
She tells me her right shoulder still hurts, she needs to keep her right arm lowered, close to her body. This isn’t easy; she is right-handed. Each time she reaches for something on a shelf or wants to clear the kitchen counter, she reminds herself to use her left hand, left arm, left shoulder, but she forgets. It becomes a dialogue, between outer body and inner body, the pain real, the energetic message real. She continues doing what needs doing, but must mind her edges, must tend to what is sore, aching, asking for attention. Be involved but also stay center, reach out but also go in, the messages conflicting at first but then becoming clear. Messages of engaging, of being all in without being All In, of watching her energy, her actions, her own. Her Own. No one else’s. No one else’s picture perfect life, no one else’s Norman Rockwell painting, no one else’s social media feed. I hug her, mindful of her right shoulder, feel her heartbeat within mine. We are all of the same, are we not? Swaths of color on the canvas of human hearts. What a beautiful painting life is. Do you see, do you see?
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.
~ Confucius ~
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9 thoughts on “all in”
BTW…this is gorgeous writing and touched me.
I’d really like to suggest you take a look at Substack, I think it would work really well for generating an audience that you can engage with. I haven’t checked out the costs but I did December Reflections with Susannah Conway, Ink on my Fingers, do you follow her? And Substack now has a chat feature where your followers can post comments/photos and it worked so well. 😉 Just a thought, Vugs, Laura
Happy New Year!
Thank you, Laura, for all of this. I’m so glad this piece touched you. xo
And I’ve looked at Substack (many times) and have considered using it… just not sure it’s the fit for me right now. But maybe! Thanks so much for sharing the suggestion… always appreciated.
Happy New Year to you too!
This is beautiful, Michelle, thank you!
Oh, my heart. This post spoke so deeply to me, Michelle. I love the sound of your Thanksgiving. We celebrated
Grace, I’m so glad this spoke to you. Thank you for letting me know.
I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely too, and just what you needed. xo
You made me see with your beautiful words Michelle!
…and likewise, you’ve made me smile, Jane. xoxo