It feels like it should be summer already, doesn't it? Older Daughter has been out of school for over a week now, and Younger Daughter is now done, too. On Wednesday, I finally finished the last really big deadline-driven job I had to do, and on Thursday, after cleaning the house up so we'd be ready for this weekend's visitors, I sat down outside on the back patio and knitted and knitted and knitted. It was absolutely wonderful, and it meant that by yesterday, I'd finished the wrap that I'm working on.
That's a bit of a tease, as I have no pictures yet. But it is done. I even wore it last night when we took Rick out to dinner for his birthday.
My day of knitting also gave me a chance to finally think more about our week up in the Bay Area. It's a funny thing, because I've had to tell people where I was, as a few work deadlines were postponed, and it always feels very dramatic to me to say that we were up there to be with Rick's grandmom while she was dying. I've been trying to figure out why that's so hard to say. I think there are a lot of reasons, but one of them may be that we tend to use verbs like "die" as, essentially, punctatives, verbs that describe a one-time contained action. Like "drop", or "fall", where there's very little time for an internal event structure, and the whole act is encompassed in the verb. But it turns out that, at least sometimes, dying isn't like that. It's a process, an -ing, not an -ed. It's momentous (but not momentaneous), and in many ways indescribable; I kept wishing (as I almost never do) that words like awe-ful and awe-some hadn't changed their meanings over time, because I felt that they might once have been useful in describing a process like die-ing. But simultaneously, because processes (as opposed to punctatives) by their very nature encompass many moments, some of those moments, rather than being awe-some, are instead mundane, quotidien, routine.
The girls finally said to me, almost shamefaced, that they knew this was really big, and they were sad a lot of the time, but that they were also bored. They wanted, in essence, a timetable, to know what and where and when. I told them that those feelings, all of them, are part of the inherent tension in situations like this; they're awesome (in that old sense), but also filled with moments that are, quite honestly, boring. Birth, I said, is also like that. It happens when and as it will, full of exciting moments like breaking water and pushing and new babies crying, but also boring moments like walking between contractions and waiting (and waiting), and the process of dying often works the same way, especially when it's a dying that comes like this, naturally, at the end of a long life (I know just how different it can be in cases of trauma and illness, and I am grateful beyond belief that this is the girls' first experience with death).
I told them that in some ways this was Grandmom's last and great gift, to give them a chance to learn that there are many experiences in life like this, whose schedules and directions are completely outside of our ability to shape, and that all we are in charge of is how we carry ourselves through that. In a world where we are so often taught that everything is under our control, it can come as a shock sometimes to realize how few of the biggest things really are, and it is our job to walk through them with as much grace as we can muster. It's been a hard lesson for me, and one which I have had to relearn (but which I am, gratefully, having to relearn less and less often), and our week with grandmom was one more reminder, one more opportunity to spend time in the process, being rather than doing.
It's a useful reminder to me as a mother, too, that growing up is most definitely an -ing, and that nothing in that process is certain except change. I got to spend some time this week with my young friend who is learning to knit, and who gave me a bit of a window into the changes that happen between twelve (Older Daughter's age), and fifteen (this new knitter's age). I've also known this young woman since she was seven, and talk about changes! I went to pick her up with everyone's suggestions for first knitting projects on a nice little list, in case it was needed, but it was not (as I should have known); she had her own plan, and it was a good one. She wanted to knit a headband. So off we went to my LYS, where we found her a lovely merino/bamboo blend yarn and some needles, and sat down outside to start knitting.
She's a natural. I taught her a cable cast on, figuring that by the time she got through that cast-on row, she'd be well on her way to knitting, and it worked like a charm. She picked up the knit stitch like she was born with knitting in her hands (I don't think her mother had a master -- and shouldn't that be mistress? -- knitter put knitting needles in her hand as an infant, but I'll have to ask). Interestingly, although I'm a thrower, holding my yarn in my right hand, she almost immediately arranged herself so that she was doing something more like picking, with the yarn in her left.
No, she's not left-handed (although I am), but as this works for her, I'm going to brush up on my Continental purling so I can at least show her how it looks. She did also learn to purl, and by the end of the hour, she'd come pretty far.
Aren't those stitches lovely and even? And she even looked like she was having fun.
I know I did. So, I hope we'll get to see each other for another lesson next week; if this continues, I may very well have brought another one over to the Dark Side. If nothing else, maybe knitting will be something that can carry her through some of her own life's processes, and she'll learn what so many of us knitters know: keep walking, and knit through everything.