this guest post from one of my oldest friends will be one of my most treasured gifts. ama is an old soul, a woman who totally understands how the delicacies of life exist in the inbetween spaces. the way she writes about them leave me in awe. she’s always been like this – her creativity has always been in her bones, her heart always deep and wide and open – it’s why she’s such a gifted writer, poet, and seer of the world. in so many ways we’ve grown up together, witnessing one anothers celebrations, and silently (and not silently) rooting the other on in times of major upheaval and heartbreak. big heartbreaks. life changing heartbreaks.
as i navigate this whole new mama world, i’m so comforted by the thought that my oldest friends knew me when. that they can remind me of who i was as i weave my old self into a new self. sometimes we forget who we once were and it’s our friends who tell the tales and who remind of us of our story and our impact. i’m learning how important this gift is – of friend’s showing and telling us our stories through their vision and their memories. it allows us to catch glimpses of our essence as we weave in the new pieces of who we’re becoming – so that we don’t lose ourselves, so that we know how much we matter. i remain in awe of ama. everything she touches with her delicate and brave heart is blessed, golden, and changed. she is one of my most treasured soul sisters
her story of broken heart pieces below has given me a whole new perspective on my tenderness over here. i know it will do the same for you – just wait…….and i’m loving the old college photos of us she found (1993!).
words go beyond the wordless essence (as a refuge and a way)
and no longer belong to you.” — Gail Sher
These words to come, these words now, already, are no longer mine. They belong to a woman–her husband, her baby True, too–loved ones a whole country away. They belong to Kelly Rae, who is no longer the girl I once knew, who is no longer the young woman I knew, who is no longer the artist I once knew, who is no longer the kindred spirit whose grace I could feel more than a thousand miles away. She is a mother now, living in a love and pain that I, not a mother yet, can only contemplate.
So these words to come are simple. These are not words of advice from one mother to another. These are words from an old friend, a friend who knew a different woman, a friend who knew a different girl, a friend who knew a different artist, a friend who sliced my sadness in half.
|Playing With Our Dear Friend Clare’s Baby Theo’s Toys|
A friend who spoke scary truths about her fears, giving me an open space, a safe space, to let out my own demons, to put them into the air between us–and her very breath seemed to dissolve them on the spot, right there in the open air amid the lush, lush grass and creeping green kudzu of our college campus.
|College Shot in Which We’re Both Wearing Headphones|
I always seem to remember these times to have been in Spring. Maybe that’s because it was almost felt like Spring there, in the Florida town of few seasons, in the sweet span of time that seems only to be found in the fumbling newness of youth. Maybe it’s because I was with Kelly, who herself–despite her heart often breaking inside, despite the grief she so rarely shared with just anyone–felt and looked like Spring itself.
|College. Waiting to See Unrest.|
She placed beauty all around her. When the rest of us had rock posters taped to our walls, books strewn where they fell, dirty laundry thrown into piles in our rooms, Kelly’s space was always fresh and new and cared for–an artfully curated oasis. I think back to how beautifully Kelly always dressed–so expressively, so originally, so perfectly Kelly–stylish without trend, her appearance (though we tried) was completely impossible to replicate. She painted her room blue, hung sophisticated and warm-hearted paintings and postcards to rival a gallery wall, arranged totems, charms, books and pictures on old, beloved dressers and tables. She created a space so comfortable, peaceful and loving we never wanted to leave.
This was the Kelly I knew. She was also one who appeared perfect–gorgeous, laughing, happy, accomplished. So many then and likely now thought she was blessed, charmed, and had everything. Too lucky.
I also know this–Kelly has a heart that’s been broken. Kelly has a heart that she put back together again. Kelly has worked her ass off, thrown her fear into the air and let it fall to pieces upon the ground. She has picked those pieces up, one by one, and created beauty with them, hope, a calling out to the sky for more of it.
Some pieces scattered so far it seems they won’t ever be caught–they fly in breezes, those pieces of her heart. They’re in the paintings we love, the words she writes. And the more far-flung pieces of that broken heart keep falling, the deepest, most wounded ones–and with those, this way, her art has grown, her reach to the world around her has grown. The bits of her heart are everywhere and far–like stars–wending downward like dust motes to the earth, and her creations will deepen, her words will deepen, her reach will widen.
So it is with all of us. But first we have to say hello, however terrifying, to that broken heart. We have to break it open–and through our whole lives–put it all back together again. Kelly did this. From a thousand miles away, she showed me what happens when you break your heart open and mend it, piece by piece by piece. Your whole life changes. This is the Kelly I knew.
“To be reborn again means first to be reborn in your children.
Your children are a continuation of yourself.
You are reborn in them.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
I know everything about her and nothing now. She’s been in a place I’ve never been. Gone through pains and joys I’ve yet to know. She and John have broken their hearts wide open again, and out came Baby True.
The pieces of these burst-open hearts? Oh, they’ll fall and they’ll fall. I know these new parents will grab them–find them scattered everywhere, find them right beneath their feet, outside the windows in autumn like so many leaves fluttering in the wind, in passages, in passings, in phone calls from friends, visits from family, in the air they breathe–everywhere, in the most unexpected places, right when they’re needed.
Baby True at Kelly’s breast, in John’s arms–the pieces are always falling–just where they’re supposed to be, just when the space is open–like now, right now, as the baby, even as I write, holds bits of those broken hearts in his soft and tiny hand, melding them to his mother’s chest as he sleeps, giving her the strength–just enough–to wrap her arms lightly around the solid weight upon her breast, close her eyes, and be what she has always been, an alchemist who turns bright, bloody, wavering bits of heart into a solid, living, breathing being–one true thing and one true thing only–what he always was, what she always was, what John always was, what we all are–bright unbreakable jewels that break anyway, that we piece back together anyway.
Hemingway says, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, many are stronger in the broken places.” In this case the broken places are the hearts of two new parents and the child that made them. Something entirely, undeniably new. Something entirely, undeniably true.
This new being, Baby True, is the gathered magic of a thousand lost hearts, waiting to tell us all that everything is perfect, everything is just as it should be, is just as it always was. It is nothing but love, which, above all, puts needle to thread, mends, and pours light into the tiniest of cracked spaces.
He came exactly when he was most needed, falling right into the small open space between the hearts of two of most the loving, perfectly paired people imaginable–just like he always knew he would.