Thursday, December 10, 2009

Retreat

I've unfortunately discovered that a swift and utter retreat is sometimes necessary in order to survive a vicious attack from the whims of fate. This blog, sadly, has been a casualty of my retreat.

My mother died about four months ago. She only lived two months after her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. As many, many of you know from your own personal experiences, these last four months have been difficult in ways that I cannot even begin to describe here.

However, when I consider my knitting, the small particulars of this one aspect of my life seem to reflect and illustrate the larger whole. The impact on my knitting is but a microcosm of the larger system that is, quite frankly, still very much in chaos.

About a month after my mother's death, I experienced a sudden and intense desire to devest myself from all worldly fiber possessions. I gave away at least 80% of my stash. Some perspective: this is a simple, modest amount of yarn but enough to make for a successful Yarn Give Away Party. It was a comforting and social exercise - it felt wonderful to bring pleasure to my friends and to be philosophical about possessions and life. I have absolutely no remorse and I love my closet space.


Around this same time, I ambitiously began gratitude scarves for the Oncology nurse and doctor who administered to my mother. The simple man's scarf for the doctor is finished. The delicate, lace scarf for the nurse is still awaiting the final trim. Whenever I pick it up, I feel sick to my stomach.

After a few weeks, I began to hate that lace scarf. It morphed from a "thank you from the deepest part of my being" scarf to an "every stitch of this pisses me off" scarf. I would hang my project bag around the house hoping to find the one place that would inspire me to work on it. Instead I felt stalked. I now loathe that scarf and cannot in good conscience give it away to the dear woman who helped my mother. It would be such bad juju. I simply continue to detest it. It now reminds me of failed chemo and failed surgery. Frustration and impotency.

Humbled by the hatred of the scarf, I thought I would begin a fun, simple sock project with no deadline, no pressure, and no guilt. The first sock flew by. I can do this, I thought. I felt comforted by the activity and by the successful feeling of one finished sock on my foot.

But then disinterest and apathy arrived on the scene. Big time. It began with an escape trip to the US Virgin Islands. I intended to relax with my family and have plenty of time to knit - to get the mojo back. I had never been to the tropics (in fact, most of our trips are to Northern climes where knitting is a natural past time).



Let me share what I learned: one cannot knit a wool sock when temperatures approach the 90's. It was hot. It was humid. The knitting languished. Even now at home, I'm afraid the classical conditioning is complete. I have absolutely no desire to pick up and knit that sock. I have turned the heel, this is the home stretch, but I couldn't care less. Absolute and utter disinterest.


Baby hats, more scarves, wraps, Christmas ornaments - the litter of unfinished projects trails behind me for three solid months. Maybe a new pattern book? A snappy blog post? Some new equipment? Yarn? Nope, nothing inspires.

One thing is certain, everything changes. So will this. But when? How? Those things that I relied upon, that grounded me, were transient. Impermanent. Fleeting. When the ground itself is too unstable to find footing, it's impossible to knit a sock.

15 comments:

bashtree said...

Oh Ann, I am so sorry for your loss - your losses. I don't know when this will end, but I do encourage you to offer yourself lots of grace. You don't have to finish that sock. Really. Something is grounding you, and soon enough you will know what that is and be able to embrace it. In the meantime...grace.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Take comfort in whatever you can and give yourself time to feel whatever it is you feel.

Ji said...

romantic, poetry, knitting, and ocean views...

you must be very creative and full of imaginations. i never thought that knitting would come together with poems

I write a lot of things about overcoming adversities, dealing with failures or loses, and handling stress...welcome aboard at

http://www.jingleyanqiu.wordpress.com

lookinout said...

You need to give yourself a break! Have the sympathy for yourself that we would all send you. Take care!
Gillian

LaurieM said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.

Was your knitting emotionally connected to your mother for you? I wonder if you're giving it up as part of your mourning for her.

I can only imagine how horrible you feel, but I can also imagine that with time it will feel less horrible. I hope you can give yourself that time.

Anonymous said...

Oh Ann, how amazing to be able to put into words a small amount of the emotions you are going through. I remember your writing about taking your knitting and being able to sit with your mom during her appointments, two months was no where near enough time to begin to contemplate what was to come. It's just all too intertwined, maybe some day your desire to create with yarn will come back to you. Peace and love, Anne

martha said...

Ann, I'm thinking of you.

anne marie in philly said...

thinking of you...the knitting will come back in time and find you...let it be for now...

Bridget said...

Ann, I know exactly how you are feeling, and I can't say when you will start to feel "with it" again. But in the meantime, don't beat yourself up for not being The World's Most Greatest, Understanding Person. You lost your mom, and no matter how much you didn't want to see her suffer any more, she is still gone, and it sucks, and it's not fair.

Eventually, it will just be a regular part of your day, and you'll know what you feel like doing. Until then, don't sweat it.

Linda said...

Odd, isn't it, how that lace project came to embody a strong thread of gratitude overlain with grief, loss and misery? Writing seems to help things swim into focus. My sympathies as you wade through such profound emotions.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ann,
It has been 10 years since my mother's passing. It was many months after that event before I wanted to do anything but lay on my couch and feel sad. Although there are still painful moments, they are fewer, as yours will be. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Dina

teabird said...

Ann, I'm so sorry. Maybe the lace scarf is part of the grieving stages - anger - and maybe you'd feel better if you gave it away (unfinished) or let someone else finish it for you.
(( ))

Laurie (Moo!) said...

Ann, I am truly sorry for your loss. "C" took my mother 6 months ago. Take the projects that anger you and frog them. One day they'll become something that you love. You haven't lost the zeal for knitting, it's just resting. Be good to yourself and carry the good memories as much as you can. Hugs.

knithound brooklyn said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Nothing but time will heal the pain. It's a process. So is knitting. And it will be there for you when you are ready.

Robin said...

I was catching up on your blog posts today and am so sorry to hear about your loss. I can only imagine what it's like to lose your mother. I had surgery for a pancreatic tumor when I was 35. It's a scary scary diagnosis. I see from more recent posts that you're getting back in the swing. It's definitely a process and takes time. Moods ebb and flow. Take care and be gentle with yourself.