Painted Grief Stones
Yesterday, within the shelter of my back porch, I painted grief stones. One for my brother, who died last September, fulfilling the promise of his slow decline; and the other for my sister who left in an unexpected flash, a quick exit on a hot summer afternoon just a few weeks ago.
Before she had children of her own. Before I grew into my parents expectations and rules. Before I could even reach the drinking fountain on my own, my sister taught me a song:
Catch a falling star
and put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day.
The memory of singing with her gave me the idea for grief stones. Something that I could carry in my pocket. A talisman that would remind me of them. Something tangible that I could hold and touch in the times when I’m not ready for goodbye and I still want to dig around in the feelings and memories of knowing them. Hang on. Hang on tight. And I squeeze the rock in my hand.
My brother’s grief stone is bright yellow with mountains and pine trees. That’s where he was most at home – deep in the forest, deep into himself.
The rock that I painted for my sister is pink and orange, the color of a sunrise. Her eyes were always fixed on the horizon – hope for what was to come.
Grief is a dog, following me from room to room, constantly underfoot and tugging at my sleeves. Only when I cry and the relief spills down my cheeks, do I feel the pull subside. And then, for a moment my heart is calm and knowing.
Sometimes it seems like the world is filled with broken hearted people, struggling to get through a day, but finding light under sofa cushions and other unexpected places. Finding joy in a small chipped cup.
This morning a sliver of moon hangs behind a veil of clouds. I make cinnamon toast and tea. With my journal and pen I write the day into my room.
Wounds never completely heal, so I dance on their edges, like a woman on a tightrope, balancing love and loss in my arms, ‘til they settle side by side revealing the texture of every human heart.
Thomas “Tommy” Black 1938 ~ 2021 Patricia “Patty” Black 1941 ~ 2022
Forever in my heart