As you know, we are preparing for some more furniture shuffling and Miss Andrea is drafting the next phase of the cat shelf installation around the windows and Z-Girl's desk. Over the course of the past year we've accomplished much. Yet some days it can feel like we have far to go...
Z-Girl has taken inventory of books and paperwork that were carefully tucked on a bookcase in the front of the apartment. They will be packed up and stored while she rearranges old and new furniture.
Leafed within a journal given to her back in 2002 Z-Girl found two cards and a typed letter. Her reflections as she shared them with me follow. I was helping her with the task of packing (cardboard boxes were involved after all...)
...I can remember attempting to journal back in 2002. Several wise people suggested that I write about the emotions I was experiencing during the days and weeks immediately following Joey's death. Finally in 2004 I entered something inside the bound book gifted to me. A few phrases from my first try:
~my heart hurts as my pen skims this page
~why didn't I help you?
~I feel stuck
The next time I wrote is Christmas Day, 2004. This is after I had run the Marine Corps Marathon for the first time (October 31, 2004)
~I wish you would visit me
~I wish that you could have joined me to run the marathon, or at least been there to run across the finish line
~I miss you.
The last entry is 8 days after the third anniversary of Joey's death, 5/27/05. I say:
~I feel that I've failed you by not memorializing you in written word.
~Some days I expect you to come bounding through the door to sit beside me.
These are snippets of the emotional journey that Z-Girl documented. The typed letter she uncovered was from Joey written during one of the down periods of their relationship, when he was starting to succumb more fully to his addictions. Sobriety was brief and the battles longer, more arduous. One of the cards was the last handwritten sentiment from him--he sent it for her 37th birthday while he was in rehab. In both the typed letter and the card he shares his love for her. That remains the brightest part of his legacy. Love.
Z-Girl likes to draw parallels...and here is what she concluded yesterday:
Like a mosaic these beautiful fragments can be pieced together to form a comforting memorial quilt. I consciously folded special items from Joey into books to be revisited when I needed to see his handwriting or read the simple words I love you, Laura. As for my own pen to paper thoughts--I held my emotions at bay because expressing them made some people in my life uncomfortable. I've recovered from that concern. Sharing helps me and it helps others. It's an emancipation. And it feels authentic.
The parallel: the process of redecorating my apartment. Shelf by shelf, new items replacing those that have completed their purpose. There's joy and some emotion. As the pieces come together, a creative vision is realized. A living space that I can enjoy with the Squeedunk gang, and is welcoming to our guests. One where my memorial quilt is displayed through color and texture and art. And a place where I can also fully embrace my love of all five cats by incorporating their needs into the flow and structure of the decor. This too has been liberating. I held back for a long time, feeling that I shouldn't spend the time or effort in a rental. Another recovery: I'm living HERE. NOW. And I love this declaration.
A beautiful mosaic.
Z-Girl wants all of you to know her memorial quilt has ALL of life's pieces in its tapestry. Font Hill, CHS, Hood, Ellicott City, New York City and Jersey City. It's all the great people met along the path of life--teachers, friends, family and the good times and even the tough times survived together. It's a big, comfy blanket.
This is the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Inspirational on so many levels.
We'll continue to share our memories and our current adventures here on Squeedunk.
Thanks everyone for joining us. Wherever you are today, may it be a comfortable Caturday. Ponder the fragments and construct your mosaic.
Valentina, over and out.
This is me, back in 2009 enjoying a day when Z-Girl brought out feather boas. Yea, she has feather boas...