|Forgetfulness (M.A. Reilly)|
From somewhere in the high heavens, the places I could not see, far beyond my gaze, there was a future floating down. I was alive, feet on the earth, so I could not outrun that future and slowly it covered me up.
There is, my dear friend, in the heart of every living being, the will to go on.
- KAO KALIA YANG, Your Threads Have Come Undone: A Letter to a Grieving Husband
The words quoted here are from a letter, Kao Kalia Yang wrote to a stranger who was deep in grief. Her words are poetic, brave, fierce, and so very, very right. I have been struggling to understand what it is I have mostly learned these last two years and it is the unquestionable understanding that the will to live is an untamed pulse. Something fundamental urges adherence to living when the self is less sure of breath.
At first I didn't feel. Shock insulates, slows the blood. Then I resurfaced and forgot. Each step in the day was a moment to anticipate Rob. I surfaced and remembered and it hurt in ways that defy language. When light began to creep in, to sink below the shut eyes of doubt it was largely because of the company I kept. Awakening happened alongside others deep in their own bereavement--mostly women I met in grief circles. In time I shared and shouldered sorrow and joy, and these connections rerooted me to the planet, to earth. I was feet to the soil.
A day or two ago, a friend, Sandy, commented on a set of images I have been making this summer. The presence of blackbirds can be found in so many of my paintings and truthfully I had no reason I could name as to why their presence in each painting was so prominent. She told me what I simply had not seen:
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
Birds in Flight (M.a. Reilly, 2017)
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
- The Beatles
What now feels like a million years ago, though it was just the summer of 1990, Rob and I traveled north of Sligo to visit Innisfree. There we were rowed across the lake to the island and spent the day in Yeats' bee-loud glade. Born there was the promise of something permanent and something also fleeting.
I will arise and go now.
And I am.