Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Of Time and the garden

We went back to the Japanese Garden last week. The sky was grey, an iridescent grey only a painter could think up. Or a poet. The kind of sky that can often be seen glistening over the roofs of Paris, my hometown. We walked the moss-lined paths, taking it all in: the carousing camelias, the budding bushes, the greening grass.
On our last visit summer was ending. Turtles were lined up on narrow reefs, soaking up the weakening sun. Kois were swarming the shores of the pond, gaping mouths held above water, begging for treats before winter's long slumber. Leaves were turning. Our family was whole.
I wish time could be dialed back. When I was ten or eleven, my older brother -who was reading philosophy at school- explained to me one day that Time didn't actually exist, that it was a human construct. I was appalled and indignant and to this day, even though I understand the concept intellectually (I read philosophy too when my turn came), I still don't find it relevant or helpful. For me, life is ALL about Time.
Winter is waning and color slowly infusing the garden again. Time is marching on... If it were reversible, I could accept the idea that we invented it. But it isn't and transience rules. I didn't always know that. I remember thinking when I was very young (maybe three or four) that parents were parents and kids were kids and would remain so forever. I was actually happy to belong to the kid category because, for some reason, I knew that it was the parents' job to pay the bills and that it was sometimes tough. But I learned otherwise soon after: my next Time-related memory is figuring out how long I would have to wait to turn eighteen (that's how old my mom had said I had to be to start wearing lipstick). Time was slow then.
The garden cycles through the seasons. Our family is held in a wrinkle of Time. Both ineluctably moving forward and irresistibly held back. Grief is our connection to Noah. To the family that once was. There is no going back but there is no letting go either.
We are woven of strands of Time and held together by the ties that bind us. When a knot comes loose, we unravel. My mother grieved for seventy-two years for a baby she carried for nine months and knew for thirty-six hours. He was her first-born. Her last thought was of him.
However much I rebel against the irreversibility of Time, Noah won't be coming back to my daughter's arms and I know she will grieve for him till she draws her last breath. Hers is a sorrow that will never abate.
The garden remains. A light breeze carries the effluves of spring. In the pond, the turtles are still sluggish but they hold their heads above water like tiny periscopes. The kois swim aimlessly. They can't start eating until the water warms up and their digestive systems kick into action again. Eating now would kill them and they know it. But fasting is clearly not as much fun as feasting. They look bored. I guess Time can be slow for a fish too.
We circle the pond and wander the paths of the garden. Time marches on. There is no going back to what was. But the sky is suitably grey and the grass stubbornly green. Serenity washes over us like high tide over bruised shores. It comes and goes, forever elusive but still a comfort. Like a mirage in a desert.
(The photos above have been taken on three separate visits, one in April last year, some at the end of August, others last week.)

30 comments:

  1. Simply beautiful, MC. Although my heart is broken, I can not imagine being where you, Veronique and the rest of Noah's family are.

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  2. Looks like a beautiful place! I still think about your family daily and pray for peace and comfort.

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  3. Sad news in the attached link, but I guess the only way to look at it is that....... did we really think it would be easy to change? But based on this new information, we cannot give up, we can only accept what they offer as far as gun control, hope it spares some lives and continue to push for the total ban of assault rifles. We knew it would not be easy, but cannot accept that it is impossible. We must continue. For Noah, for Newtown, and for all of the others this has affected........ prayers to you, MC and your family.......sherri

    http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/03/19/17373761-assault-weapons-ban-dropped-from-senate-bill?lite&ocid=msnhp&pos=1

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    1. I am so frustrated by this news, and so sad for Noah and the others who's lives were cut short because of these weapons. As I sit here watching my son eat his breakfast I am afraid for him, and all of us as I do not see how we as a society will stop gun violence. So, three months later Sandy Hook is becoming a memory for most, and meaningful gun control is being pushed aside. I ask myself how people can forget the faces of those children and teachers and do nothing. I guess I knew that this would be an uphill battle, but I also counted on others being as outraged and disgusted by the murder of 20 children as I am to move them to action. I will continue to do what I can to push for change in hopes that all of our children can be safe. Liz

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    2. What everyone needs to be doing this morning is emailing Senator Harry Reid, The Senate Majority leader to get the assault weapons ban back on the agenda. We are the majority if we will just use our voices and SPEAK LOUDLY. Don't ask for it, DEMAND IT. We have already failed the 26 in Newtown, lets not ever let this happen again. ALL OF OUR CHILDREN HAVE THE RIGHT TO BEAR THERE LIVES.

      MC, prayers and love always. My heart breaks for each and everyone in this. I hope that I have not over-steped my boundaries on your blog.
      ARF
      North Carolina

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  4. Your grief is a coiled spring that keeps on pulling you back. Every spring, being made of metal, rusts unless it is carefully oiled on a regular basis. One day it will slacken and let your move forwards without those gut wrenching recoils of fresh grief. I love that you can process your loss through a garden...we are no closer to reality than we are in a garden, the coalface between humanit and nature. A lovely post :)

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  5. Penso anch'io fermamente che sarà impossibile per tutte queste madri e questi padri, quasi tutti giovani, che il loro dolore possa diminuire un giorno, specie per come sono morti questi piccoli e forse più in là riusciranno a conviverci con il dolore stesso... Diminuire no... Penso spesso, nonostante sia così lontana dal vostro paese, anche ai fratelli e alle sorelle di questi bambini, bambini ancora essi stessi, al trauma che dovranno superare. Penso allo sforzo e all'impegno che le mamme e i papà stanno facendo per non abbandonarli a sè stessi e aiutarli a crescere al meglio... nonostante tutto. Poi penso che questi piccoli "superstiti" penso alle sue nipotine, le sorelline di Noah, alle sorelline di Emilie e di Josephine, al fratello di Ben, di Ana di Catherine, di Charlotte di Dylan di Olivia di Jesse James Grace Madeleine Allison ,ai fratelli di Chase Jessica Caroline e Daniel ai cugini di Jack e Avielle che oggi vanno aiutati ma un giorno e troveranno il modo, andando avanti, di continuare a vivere e a costruire il loro futuro. Per gli adulti no, è diverso ... Come molti di voi dicono già dal primo giorno, credo che questi genitori sebbene addolorati, debbano dare un senso a questa tragedia. Alcuni li vedo molto agguerriti, altri meno,. Dovrebbero unirsi e fare in modo che questo sacrificio non sia vano come chi ha armato e ucciso pensano. Credo che debbano lottare per cambiare le leggi per le malattie mentali ma soprattutto per il controllo delle armi. Tutti uniti contro questa assurda legislazione che fa capo al 2* emendamento ma che uccide tanti poveri innocenti... Da un paese lontano sogno che un giorno si possa avere una legge il cui nome possa ricordare le giovani vittime di Sandy Hook e le loro maestre... Sogno ed vi auguro che un giorno si possa giungere ad una svolta epocale nel vostro grande paese, che venga promulgata una legge in onore dei bambini di Newtown che sia da esempio al mopmdo intero. Un abbraccio... sempre nei nostri <3

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  6. Hi MC, I like what you write. Thinking of that you are originally French, you write so eloquently in English. I always come back to your site, always curious to read news from you. I also read what Sherri Tan attached. What can we say. That this is normal. The ones in power assured they would never lose their power. It will stay the same, or just about the same. What a shame. When I try to imagine your situation I feel I could never overcome the grief, ever, and that the only way to go on is to focus on the good, on what's left (and there is the whole rest of the family there - living, vivid, growing) and on what's all there positive to come. And to stay active, try to keep on organizing a change. Maybe some changes can be achieved and then it was worth trying. I feel so very sorry for you, mostly for Veronique. She lost her baby, what a gorgeous boy. Good night from Spain.

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  7. What a beautiful, peaceful-looking place. I imagine it's good for some deep thinking, which can hurt as much as it can help. Time is the enemy of everything, in the end. It pulls us onward, when we'd rather remain left behind, and marches forward when we wish it would just stand still.

    I only hope that someday it softens the pain, even if only for short while.

    Many hugs,

    Kim

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  8. God created a beautiful world, no doubt! looking at this pictures is a perfect reminder. I wonder why we have destroyed most of it, with bad actions, behavior and irresponsibility. I'm sorry your family is paying for that.

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  9. The garden is beautiful but not as beautiful as your words speaking of time and of your family and your Noah.

    When I think of what time is doing, I visualise a circle rather than a line. In my vision, this circle eventually brings all Noah's loved ones to a point in time which is togetherness once more. Sadly though, before that point is reached, it appears time moves you on, away from the last precious moments of togetherness but keeping you frozen in painful blackest grief.
    I cannot imagine the sorrow and loss that washes over each one of you, waves of fresh hurt and grief. I admire the grace with which you face your ocean and the strength with which Veronique bravely opens her eyes to hers, every day. I sometimes see you all as surfers, resiliently paddling out into the deep sea, each in your own way. It is a battle, a sensation, a force.
    And the sea, like grief, is both predictable and unpredictable. I would take some of that burden if I could, MC. I wish I could do more.
    Hugs,
    Julia




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  10. I have been greatly affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. I did not know anyone there, I did not need too, I am a father so I cry and I ask what we've all asked ourselves over and over, why? I cry for all the victims but I connect most with Noah. My son is 4, when I look at pictures of Noah I see the same looks. The look of wonder, the look of joy, the look of mischief and the look of love for family and life. I am Canadian. The gun debate in America puzzles me and frustrates me. I have followed your daughter's voice through TV and articles on the internet. I have followed your articles on this site. I admire how you and Veronique are handling yourselves. You are strong beyond words. I lost my best friend when we were 19, tragically his two siblings, an older brother and a younger brother died separately within the following 6 years. The mother shared with me after her last son died, I cannot be hurt anymore but I will hurt forever. Veronique will always feel the hurt of Noah's loss and the hurt will last forever.

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  11. Thank you for the beautiful photos, MC. I understand the philosophical thoughts and nature is so intertwined with our lives, that we are subject to her ways. I, too, think of Noah and the children frequently when I witness the change of seasons and how much change has occurred in just three months since they are gone.

    I cannot really fathom your grief, nor Veronique's, but, what you wrote is true -- till the end of time, or the end of our lives, we will think of our loved ones. I wish you peace and the comfort of family and friends in the ensuing months. With every best wish to your family and love to Noah.

    Eileen

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  12. Dear MC,
    What a beautiful garden, it looks like a very magical place. Peaceful.
    I come to your site each night, after the husband and kids have gone to bed and the house is quiet. I have been doing this for months now. I look at Noah's pictures, and cry. I cry because I miss a boy I have never met, and I cry for his mother and his family who have lost him. I think of your family and I wish I could take all your pain away.
    Megan

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  13. Dear MC,
    What we experienced as a family is that when a child is gone, there is this void. It is bigger than someone can get their arms or thoughts around to fill it and make it better. It encompasses fear and grief and distress and anger and those of us who have sat in that hole after losing a child can understand. Someone once told me that even light can't exist in a black hole and that's how our whole family felt. I'm sure that's yours too.

    We found that after the funeral and weeks/months passed, everyone else was able to go back to some sense of normalcy. Yet we were far from normal. We tried for the sake of our other kids. We tried for the sake of outsiders who couldn't comprehend what we were going through. We thought that if we at least tried, maybe one day our emotions will line up with our actions. Will the light ever come again? Will the void ever be filled? Will the soul sing or celebrate again?

    There comes a time - and for us it took quite a long time - when the darkness does start to turn to light, when a purpose is found in each heart of the family - when it is okay to move on while never leaving behind your lost child.

    All I can say for today, in all of your family's darkness...hold on to one another. And hold on to the hope that the light will come. Until that day, you're all still in my family's prayers.

    Even our now tweenage kids are praying for you all. One decided to make one of your recipe's the other day....can we say disaster in my kitchen! yet I hugged her for trying, we laughed and cleaned up the mess together. She just thought it would be a tribute to your family. She said she was praying for you all as she made it. She said, I know what those little girls are going through so I had to pray and do something. I hugged her again because yes she does know what Ariel and Sophia are going through and as I helped her clean, I was inspired by the kindhearted, giving and spirited young person she is becoming. Yet never forgetting her past and somehow wanted to connect to other kids she didn't even know. Through your bread! If I knew how to upload pics to you, I would because it is the most 'Charlie-Brown-esque' bread you've probably ever seen and yet it was made with so much love for your family. Just the pure love that comes from a child. I hope you feel a little bit of that today somehow.

    God Bless. We're still praying!

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  14. The garden looks so serene. I hope the serenity offered you some peace, even if only for the moment. May God bless you and your family.

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  15. No words again, Farine. Just wanted to say I read, and I am here

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  16. 100 days today. Still heavy on my heart and mind. I will never forget. I will never stop standing up. Love to the family and Noah...
    ARF
    North Carolina

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  17. Beautiful! Beautiful words and photos. You are a beautiful soul. That book is in you and struggling to emerge dear friend!

    Love and hugs, Teresa

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    1. I agree with you totally Teresa! Ever since I started reading this blog, I thought the same thing! What a truly inspirational person and writer! Even though I started reading for the Noah posts, I enjoy reading about the bread too! and life!

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  18. Chere Farine
    Just to say I read and send love always xx Joanna

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  19. Others have now suggested it and I can only echo their sentiments. Please forgive my presumption, but with your remarkable gift of eloquent writing, one day...

    ...you should consider publishing a book about bread and memories and love and Noah. I can envisage it filled with your beautiful photographs (another talent), your heartfelt memories, anecdotes and stories and, of course, bread recipes.

    I think you could sign a lot of us up for the first copies.

    Kindest regards,

    Graham

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  20. Yesterday my mother got a note in the mail from an old neigbor from 25 years ago. My mother had kept in contact thoughout the years. The letter informed us that his wife Adele had passed away. In 1991 there son Warren died in a milliary training accident off the coast of California. The last thing Adele said before she passed away was "I am not going home this time, I am going home to Warren." Then last night I read your blog post and my head swirled with thoughts your mother reunited with her baby, Adele hugging Warren, my grandmothers, my friends and all the mothers who have lost children. What would that reunion would be like? Years of longing, heart ache and suffering melt away and tears of Sorrow turn to joy. Bless the women living with there hearts in two worlds and give strength and love they need to endure. Time moves in slow motion and lightning speed all at once. My prayer for your family is to find strenght in times of weakness, eyes to see the light when the world feels dark, a hand to hold when you feel alone, laughter when there is just too much sorrow to bear, courage in the face of fear and to know the love story of Noah lives forever. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  21. I know when you see these wonders of nature, you can't help but think about times similar you shared with Noah. But I know you know that the beauty God gives us here on Earth to enjoy is a fraction of the beauty we will see in Heaven. He only gives us beauty our eyes can withstand. Noah is now seeing things we cannot even imagine and I'm sure he also remembers the days of nature walks with you and he knows there will be a day that he will show you the wonders they contain, as you once showed him...................... thinking about you today, with love and prayers....sherri

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  22. Lovely. My husband and son and I were at the Arboretum today enjoying the cherry blossoms in the sun with so many other people. We had a picnic with onigiri and looked up at the blossoms, so brief and yet so beautiful.

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  23. Thinking of Noah and his family a lot over the holidays I am sending love and prayers to all of you !!

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  25. I love that garden. Japanese gardens create a space for stillness and beauty, for respite from the worries of the world.

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