a moment of silence

A moment of silence? Let’s try 50+ years.

Before I was born, I had a brother who left this world before he even came into it properly. He left a perfectly Larissa-sized hole in the world. He left a hole in my parents’ hearts that I could never fill.

I didn’t know about him until I was 11. It took another 40 years before I had the nerve to ask what his name was. My father couldn’t quite remember. He left a hole so big, it swallowed his name.

I struggle with talking about my history. Because it is so tangled up with the story of my parents’ lives. Because I sometimes hate that I can’t separate myself from them and their story. Because I know they would rather I didn’t talk about it. Because they never talk about it, and it makes me feel crazy.

I used to say that I couldn’t stop picking at these holes in the skin of my family. It felt like there was something wrong with me, or maybe there was something wrong with them. But I’m starting to see this pain as something that I have a mysterious drive to Be With. There’s nothing wrong with that. And the more I learn to Be With things, the more I see how many things I turn away from, and the more I can respect my parents’ turning away from what feels like Everything That’s Important.

People sometimes wonder why my work is so slow. This is why: I go to the studio and make one cardboard wing and pin it to a sculpture. And then I am shaking and I have to sit down and just breathe for a while.

And then I hang a plastic replica of a baby’s skull inside the sculpture’s chest. And I am shaking again, and I have to lie on the floor and resource my butt off. And that’s enough for one day.

When you carry a child in your body, it is literally part of you. Everybody knows that. But did you know that fetal cells can stay in a mother’s body for the rest of her life? Did you know that they can make their way into a younger sibling’s body?

I have smuggled my brother out of our mother’s house.

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows

higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

-e.e. cummings

4 thoughts on “a moment of silence

  1. Feeling that Larissa-sized hole in the world, one so big that it swallowed his name…

    I also truly admire that you work slowly and digest all that comes up for you. A lot came up for me around my post today and you are reminding me that this sadness and neediness simply needs to be digested, too, before the next movement. xoxo

    1. Thank you, Kathy. It’s easy to stop and digest when I’m working on the sculptures. They are often physically demanding, and I’ve learned the hard way that my body will be a mess if I don’t take frequent breaks. The book is harder. I’ve been known to spend two or three hours hunched over the ipad, only to discover when I finally stop that I feel like I just ate a very large bag of potato chips – thirsty and queasy and grumpy!

      1. This makes sense about the sculptures being so exhausting physically. (I love reading your blog. It is so you, and you express the Holy so beautifully.)

      2. It doesn’t make sense to me that they’re so exhausting, but they definitely are! It was hard to argue with the body 16 years ago, when I started making them. It’s pretty much impossible now

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