We used to nickname her pumpkin when she was younger

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Golden Thread and the Power of Creativity

The golden thread is a symbol of the inspiration, intuition, and guiding light that graces us throughout our lives. It is that which we follow, knowing that it will, in some mysterious way, guide us on our true paths in life. It is most colorfully portrayed in Greek mythology as the magical thread that Ariadne gave to Theseus, assisting him in his heroic journey into and out of the Minotaur's labyrinth. As we travel through literal and figurative labyrinths in our lives, the golden thread may easily go unnoticed, yet when it is recognized and followed, we may find that this archetypal strand of gold connects us to our true selves, to our beloveds, and to that which we discover to be home.
The cats on the sweater while I was assembling it.
The day before I started my new job at Saint Mary's University in November 2010, I took my bike from home to the university to see how long it would take me so I would be prepared time-wise.  I remember calling Alysia from the parking lot of the campus just asking how things were going. I remember telling her how happy I was to be starting my new job and how happy I was in general.  I remember her being happy for me over the phone.  That was about 16 months ago. The next month, December 2010, I started a knitting project of epic proportions (in my mind)...a sweater for my partner. I never knitted a sweater before but I was ready for this challenge.  I was happy, I was working in a great place, I finished school, I had the time.

In the beginning, while knitting this sweater during my lunch hours, I would knit in happy thoughts, I would knit interesting lunch hour conversations, I was knitting for the sake of knitting, pure and simple. Sometimes my mind would go blank and I would enter that zone they call "zen".  It was a slow process, I wasn't in any hurry. I suspected I would have it done for next Christmas.

When Alysia passed away 8 months later and I was home for two weeks, I didn't pick up the sweater. I couldn't.  I couldn't focus on it. I couldn't fathom doing anything but crying. However the first day I returned to work, two weeks later, something told me to bring the sweater to work on.  On a side note here, I want to say that although it seems I returned to work quickly, I needed to get out of the apartment.  I needed to get a break from that scene of extreme grief.  It was one of the harder things I had to do after Alysia passed away.  Not everyone should return to work so soon, not everyone should be off work for a long time.  Each person is different.  I wasn't more brave or less brave, I just did what I needed to do to get through.  Luckily my work environment is one that helped my healing.  Some work environments aren't blessed with such gifts...every situation is different. 

I remember my first lunch hour back and I pulled out the sweater to work on it and I immediately picked up where I left off.  It was a good diversion for that awkward lunch hour during which no one knew what to say to me.  The sweater served as an avoidance tool at first. Over the weeks, talking to my friends in the lunch room I would talk about Alysia while knitting and there would be tears. When I knit the sweater in silence my mind would go over everything that had happened.  I would think of Alysia being gone, her funeral, my future, and so many other thoughts.  All the while excited to get the sweater done for my partner. In February when I finally finished knitting the sweater, I had to assemble it.  I remember looking at the pieces one by one, "oh the pocket was the first thing I did, I remember being so excited about starting this project". The pocket had to be assembled to the front "the front was where I first started knitting in my grieving, my tears, my fears." I had to attach the good to the bad.  The hood (good) to the body (bad), etc...  When I was all done I felt both happy and confused.  On another side note, a grief counselor told me some tips on how to cope with grief and one was to do something creative...I told her I was already on that one.

I held up that finished sweater (in March...not in time for Christmas) and thought how symbolic of my life it was.  It was a mixture of happiness with my new life prior to Alysia's death and extreme devastation from the loss of Alysia. My assembly work was shaky and not the best, the seams look a little like scars...just like the scars in my heart and in my life in general.  Yet I was so proud of this sweater, good and bad, that I couldn't wait to give it to Katie!  She was/still is there through both the good and the bad, through thick and thin and this sweater symbolized so much more than just what happened to me but what happened to us.  Of course she should have this sweater, she earned it. I love her and she should have it. Our relationship was worth all the effort I put into this sweater.  While she was there consoling me and taking care of me, I was plodding through the making of this sweater. I can't explain how this works but in finishing this sweater, I closed a tiny piece of my grief with it.

Katie with Terra and the sweater
Now, I am addicted to creating. I suppose that's better than being addicted to unhealthy things.  I started a new project. A coffee press cozy! I never made anything for me before.  Even this little project that I'm doing is also so symbolic of my life.  I find that I am doing things for me now.  I will not allow anything/anyone anymore to hinder my progress in my healing. I have been forced to reinvent myself once again and it is a struggle to do so. I have to remember my past and honor my beautiful Alysia all the while move forward in healing and happiness and joy and love.  I have to piece my past to my present, to create something beautiful in the future... just like the sweater.

 The very act of living is creative but it's pretty cool to use that creativity to create objects of use or works of art.  I strongly recommend creativity for grief therapy.  God is a creator and we are co-creators with him/her. We were created to create. Alysia was artistic and created wonderful drawings and computer graphics. In creating, I am honoring her memory. I miss her so much, I love her so much and a little piece of her will live on in all of my creations in the form of a gold thread that I weave into all my creations from now on.  I have a gold thread in Katie's sweater and one in my coffee press cozy <3

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