Sometimes grief and loss consume us. Ann Hood talks about how her mind could not focus on her writing. She kept telling the story over and over again and even though people told her to write it down - words failed her. Someone told her to learn to do something with her hands and she chose knitting. Knitting saved her.
"The quiet click of the needles, the rhythm of the stitches, the warmth of the yarn and the blanket and scarf that spilled across my lap, made those hours tolerable."
I remember something similar happening when my mom died. But it was the opposite of Ann. I couldn't knit. The very thing that saved me in the early days after being diagnosed with a chronic illness betrayed me, just as Ann's words betrayed her. Instead, I wrote about it. My fingers spilled the blood from my bleeding heart, breaking in two. It was cathartic. Like Ann I also felt a need to talk about it, to make sense of it.
I was like that when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in 1991. I mean, at least I knew I wasn't crazy and there was really something wrong with me. But while I tried to live with the reality of what was going on in my body, I couldn't stop focussing on it, talking about it and trying to make sense of why something like that would happen to me. I'm a verbal processor. If you're like me then you'll know that even as I talk through something today, tomorrow I may have reached a different conclusion. It confuses others because, of course, they're not following my logic, my reasoning.
Back then it was knitting that saved me. I like to knit in front of the TV watching a program I like, a mystery usually or police drama. The two together ensure that I don't focus on my problems. Instead I have to pay attention to the needles and yarn in my hands.
Death is not the only thing that brings grief. I felt huge grief when I found out I had a chronic illness. It was like the person I thought I was had gone and in its place was a different person, a sick person. Illness brings loss of mobility, time, energy and interferes with every aspect of your life. It changes you. It changes how you think. From the time of diagnosis onward every thought, every feeling is overlayed with the idea that you are now sick.
Even now, having been diagnosed with a form of inflammatory arthritis, as I lose mobility a little bit more each year, I feel a profound sense of loss. I find the concerns of others don't have an impact on me. My filter is looser than usual and I don't seem to care so much. Other people's concerns seem so trivial in my mind in contrast to the problem of my ever shrinking world. I have to force the thought into the closet in my mind and slam the door shut each day and even that is becoming harder than usual.
Ann Hood's journey is heart wrenching and painful to read. It's bringing to mind so many of my own experiences with loss. Perhaps that is not a bad thing.
PS. I don't think I can do this one chapter at a time...the book is drawing me in so I'll blog separate ideas. If you've been through any type of loss, you should read this book.