Monday, August 5, 2013

Part 2 of the story of my time caring for Marina, Sonia, Micah, and our time with Daniel (part one below, scroll down)

         The question begs, why did I do it, aside from the fact that Marina was my friend who had been stricken with an illness that was seen by me, was seen by most in those days as a death sentence. I remember how I felt. It is hard to recall exactly how my mind was working then, I was a different person then than I am now, I was very much more a meditator, a yogini, a practitioner of the spiritual arts, as much as I was a visual artist. The fervor of the young on a mission is not to be underestimated. is also true that I was braver then, maybe to a degree or two numb to many things, I just knew the pain of a friend dying, a young woman, I was a young woman. I believed in those days. I was growing, and so was my work. My practice was growing. I believed that I must help my friend. I believed that since no one else had stepped forward, it was up to me. Penelope had been living with Marina. Penelope had done what I was about to embark on. Penelope was burnt out. Let it not be underestimated, the burn-out factor in caring for the dying. Penelope had gone in as I was about to, idealistic, benevolent, she had gone in only wishing to help. There were also at the time two best friends of Marina, Vi, and Ana. Ana and Vi were faithful and true friends, bringing home-made foods, and their joyous company to help Marina face the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the most tragic any young woman, a mother of two young children should ever have to face in life. To say it was unfair, and that both Penelope and I felt the injustice of such a sentence from nature, or God, or all the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses, the Universe, or a strange biological arc peculiar to Marina, would be not saying anything close to it.

        Penelope told me as I was going in, as she was going out that it would not be easy. I said I know. She tried to warn me, and she didn’t have the words for what Marina was going through and what Marina had subjected Penelope to, and what Marina would surely subject me to. I said I know, but I did not know. I intuited, I empathized. I knew, but I did not know.

        There were Vi, and Ana, there would be Daniel along the way until the end, his visits. There were others of our circle, sporadically they brought soups, baked goods, puddings, casseroles. But mostly it was Marina, her two children Sonia, and Micah, and there was me to care for them all. 

        It is strange how writing this decades later, I break down. Is it catharsis, when it is not art but remembrance... not the experience of another, but my own history with my friend, Marina. I am so surprised at my own reaction to this writing now. All these years later...I feel my heart breaking all over again, and I continue, the tears stream, the streaming tears take me by surprise on a journey up a river of tears, cascading confluence.

        Is it because I just had a brush with the fear of cancer myself, painful testing, given the clear by my doctor, but nonetheless the passage of the fear through body and soul reminds that death stalks us all. No. It is that Marina was too young. She should be alive in the world now. Marina was young, and vibrant, she was beautiful up to the very end. Dark lustrous hair, perfect skin, coloring of the most delicate flower hues, high cheekbones, sparkling blue eyes...I almost did not remember the color of her eyes just now as I wrote, they were blue...

        I drew her. One drawing I could not find to photograph for this piece, I remembered had gone into a collaged painting. I sold it, the drawing is...wait...that is not the one, the artists job of remembering where the work is/ never done. Mostly  I never give it  much thought until I need to know where it is, to show it, to show something. Beauty of a dying young woman...

        I am there again, my heart breaks. Let no one tell me it is a passing. that the body dies, but the spirit goes on. That nothing dies. We do not know. We do not understand the mystery. I accept that I do not understand, even while the spirit within my own blood, bone, and internal miracle of life called a body cries out in horrified rebellion against the tragedy we call life and death. This is what it was about for me then, what I believe from talking with Penelope then and remembering now, Penelope, the first caretaker of Marina. It was the same for her, too. It is why I had to go to Marina, I am using a pseudonym, and each time I write her name not real, my soul is mourning all over again, my soul cries out the real name........Mirrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaa.........Mira.

 Looking for the drawing I ran across these words in a sketchbook from then after going back to study art at University:

'I began a self-portrait as a mermaid last week, and for several days the face in the portrait was blank. Empty. Then one day I spent hours on the face alone, and as I stepped back to examine the painting I saw that I had painted the face of Mira. At first I tried hard not to see her face in the painting, angered that in the end this seeing could not be avoided, I at last acknowledged the fear and a certain self-loathing that this feeling inspired in me. It was not merely the face of Mira---nor the fact that I had unconsciously recreated the face, but that I had painted her face onto a self-portrait that so disturbed me. In the end I obliterated the face, and made something less personal and more expressionistic of it. So in a certain sense I once again hid from me, hid me from the world. I was though forced to examine some feelings still quite vivid about Mira, and the time I spent caring for her during her illness, and before her death. There are moments, unavoidable, and certainly unpremeditated moments when the thought of Mira will suddenly send pain rushing through my gut and heart and I will find myself wondering again, as if for the first time, what that time was about, and why I was the one so closely involved in the tragedy of a young woman's life gradually slipping away. I was not her relative, not her close friend, nor did she particularly like me. One could say I was her servant, her caretaker, but that relationship too is altered by the fact that we had known one another and been on friendly terms for years prior to her illness. That I looked on my various duties as a service, rather than a job. A vehicle for self-exploration, a spiritual calling. That I became so very personally involved with her immediate family, care of her children, her twelve-year-old daughter a mess...'

There is more, this is the heart of it.

 I will return to this. Part 3 next time, the details.


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