Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When the World Dims

The Matron's world, that is.

Today is, in fact, a pitch-perfect warm day of a startling blue sky and movie-quality clouds.  Everything seemed brighter:  flowers popped their various rainbows and everywhere she looks, it is lovely.

But the Matron's mind is on food:

Mashed potatoes with real cream and half a stick of butter
Chocolate pudding and Popsicles
Berry scones from the Finnish Bakery
Cake:  vanilla, chocolate, marble from a box with canned frosting.  Add sprinkles

Egg salad sandwiches on white bread (Wonder is best)

These were key players in the Matronly menu for her dear friend and neighbor, Annie, who died Sunday night from cervical cancer.   Let her tell you, folks, there is no such thing as pain 'management.'

Pain permeates.   It is not physical, limited, contrite or controllable.   For the body, one must anticipate and plan, 'get ahead' of pain's onset.   This means the needles, the pills, the timing, the body's reception must all be in synch. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it does not.   Psychic pain is another thing altogether.  Here pain has the power of expanse for it can reach beyond the sufferer's body to everyone bearing witness, everyone who loves.   Yes, indeed, pain--that small plain word -- defies neat capture, in prose or in life.  Never again will the Matron stand for a second -- not a second -- the quick easy 'out' of assuming pain can be managed.

In all its manifestations, public and private, psychic and physical, pain has indeed permeated the Matronly world.  She is acutely aware, these past three days, of Reality, writ large, and understands that this moment too -- like all the moments and lives before her -- will fade into something someone only remembers.    This is both alarming and strangely helpful, understanding her current condition will some day be memory.   She is of firm belief that feeling this way -- really, really bad -- is a now or sometime-later-when-you-least-expect-it sort of commandment.  Now seems better.

The world lost not only an artist (the real deal) but the very best kind of person for whom there is no such thing as small talk, no gracious dribbling or waste.  No.  Meet  Annie and in five minutes you would be talking like teenagers pondering the meaning of life or characters on a great adventure in a movie:  spirit, heart, God or not god, love, politics, art, friendship, sex, bad behavior and its merits/drawbacks.  Whatever. She went for the jugular, each and every time.   This firm but joyful grasp on what really matters (who cares about how the job is, people!) is what made the Matron love her so.  Other people have their reasons, but for the Matron, Annie's astounding ability to live every moment rooted in the big stuff (death, love, meaning of life) made her miraculous and inspirational.  That woman mowed the lawn with God on her shoulder.   You could see it.


I promise to cry in public, demand real cream in my potatoes, look through life's lens for the best possible picture, remember to see what's over my left shoulder if my mind is only on my right, open my heart as much as is possible, visit strange places and talk even when I'm crying even if it's in the grocery store or this particular coffee shop as I am now.  I promise to see the edges of color and lines in my life, and treasure them as singular beauties.   I promise to be  true to myself.  I will not only accept reality but roll around in it with pleasure.

I'll forgive myself when I fail at every single of the above promises, as I already am --hiding my tears in the coffee shop and noting the time (pick up Merrick!) and worrying about whether the dogs got their run.   Lucky me!  Every few minutes I will break a vow (open heart always?!)  and then -- I will get to remember you, forgiving me always and happy with every single flaw in my seams.

  Can I fold laundry and walk the dog with the world radiating through me?   Maybe if I remember you. 

Good-bye, my darling.

                                                                                Scarlett           Ann Marsden 2009

                                                                                Scarlett                Ann Marsden 2009


*m* said...

This is a beautiful tribute. My sympathies on the loss of your amazing friend.

smalltownme said...

I am so sorry.

Wenderina said...

I am in awe of your ability to put such overwhelming feelings into words. Your vows are so special and following that with a recognition that vows are broken almost as soon as they are made...and yet knowing your dearest friend would forgive you this sin above all. Lovely. While she was taken too young, she obviously did her work here on earth to have touched you and so many others in such a way.

Violet said...

My heart is heavy for your loss.

Minnesota Matron said...

Thank you, friends. I wept while I wrote this (in a coffee shop) and weep again while reading. But writing makes me feel better -- and any heartfelt art in the world, however small, is a tribute to Annie.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm so sorry for the loss--both yours and everyone else's.

Robyn said...

how very sad, I'm sorry.
but, a great little list of reminders of living your life like she was there (and her forgiving you when you quite don't get it)

Jessie said...

I think this is one of my favorite blog posts of yours. Annie has already inspired you to write with God on your shoulder. So sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing.

JFS in IL said...

We have lost a very similar soul here on our block,- a lovely lady and mother of three young kids and soul mate to a wonderful man died at home 2.5 years after her diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer.
"A heart is not judged by how much YOU love, but by how much YOU are loved by others" - Wizard of Oz.
I think your Annie and our Stacy both had big hearts to have touched so many lives and to be missed so much.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. How tough to lose a friend with so many gifts and talents.

Ellen Lansky said...

This is a wonderful tribute to a great person, Mary. Thanks. The photos of Scarlett are show-stopping.

Ann in NJ said...

Heartfelt condolences. Losing a friend or family is never easy, and she sounds like an exceptional woman.

Minnesota Matron said...

Thank you, each and every. And JFS: oh. I am so sorry for this suffering, too.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

Annie had a beautiful, artist with words friend in you. What a wonderful tribute of love. I'm so sorry for your loss.

trash said...

Beautiful sentiment well expressed. May Annie's light continue to shine in your life.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Even when filled with raw grief, you manage to share the beautiful essence of an incredible soul -- the one of your friend and your very own, touched by her love and beauty.
May your grief be softened and worn into a precious pearl that holds the illuminating light of your friend, with God on her shoulder... and yours, too.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I clicked through to the poignant photos taken during her declining health. Her desire to share what cancer really looks like and her speaking of truth brought tears from my eyes.
My mother died of cancer 13 months ago; her road had much in common with Annie's road, but Annie took the higher path of truth and love, grace and hospice.
As hard it as was and is, her strength it dealing with this disease head-on was a gift.

cardinal said...

Your touching tribute made me follow link after link. Annie sounds like an amazing friend and gift to the universe. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Oh my...now I know that we really do need to meet this week as I knew Ann too. It had been many years since I had seen her and I heard the tribute to her on MPR as I was driving the other day. Even though I was only lucky enough to work with her a few times, I know that she was a wonderful artist and even better human. I'm so very sorry for your loss. - Claudia

Becky Brown said...

I am so sorry for your loss. What an amazing artist and beautiful spirit.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Matron, be strong. Mary in NY