Monday, November 25, 2013

Finding grace...

A writing hiatus of about three months now has left me with lots to ponder. Most of all, after the suicide of my beloved brother, I seek ways to honor his legacy. Knee-deep in his belongings (after a long red-tape tangle of bureacracy and the move of his lifetime of goods and hundreds of pieces of his artwork to a storage facility near my home), I sort carefully and cautiously. Yet, there are moments when I feel like I am throwing him away, casting his precious memories aside.

This is where I must find the grace to select the items that comfort me and offer the rest of his things to extended family and friends. His art, however, should be shared widely in my opinion as it speaks loudly of a lifetime of growth and raw emotion during a post-WWII era of enlightenment and change. The things we are finding are extraordinary, including photographs of his participation in the Selma to Montgomery, Alabama march in 1965 led by Dr. Martin Luther King alongside his vivid sketches and paintings that he produced for over 50 years. He did lead a colorful life, in more ways than one.

And there is my own battle with illness and trauma where I find myself returning to that dark hole known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I've learned that I've carried PTSD signs and symptoms my whole life, most prounounced during my life-threatening battle with stage 4 cancer. In fact, psychiatrist and writer Mark Epstein writes in an article entitled The Trauma of Being Alive in The New York Times that there is also a human condition called "pre-traumatic stress syndrome."

"Trauma is not just the result of major disasters. It does not happen to only some people. An undercurrent of trauma runs through ordinary life, shot through as it is with the poignancy of impermanence. I like to say that if we are not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, we are suffering from pre-traumatic stress disorder. There is no way to be alive without being conscious of the potential for disaster. One way or another, death (and its cousins: old age, illness, accidents, separation and loss) hangs over all of us. Nobody is immune. Our world is unstable and unpredictable, and operates, to a great degree and despite incredible scientific advancement, outside our ability to control it." - Mark Epstein

So, I search for "the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful" as Merriam-Webster offers as one definition of grace. And I try not to leave myself out of the benefits of that grace; to remember that it is a quality that I want and need to process yet another trauma in my life.

Once again, my legs were knocked out from under me on August 24, 2013. Three months later, it is time to accept grace into my life again and carry myself with the energy of my brother's soul. He is my greatest supporter and source of strength. He will carry me back to my work and my life. He will always be in my heart and his talents will be brought more to light through me and my writings and the accomplishments of the generations of family that are already springing forth.


  1. I love how you continue to share your authenticity... pain from trauma can be long lasting, but the word 'grace' (my fav!) helps us each along the journey... thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts to encourage & inspire others... I for one am grateful the hiatus has ended and turned into a new phase of writing :-)

  2. Happier than anyone to see you writing, knowing how much joy (and cleansing of the soul) it gives to you, and to your readers through you! Those who become victorious overcoming personal battles are the most courageous humans, in my opinion. So if there were medals to be passed out, I'm thinking you're in line for a Purple Heart. ;)

    Your brother and his life are an inspiration, it's just so sad that great people don't always recognize their own greatness.


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