the skull. and a few wildflowers.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Summer Days, 1936


sometimes I feel like I’m cheating by writing on a blog.
I type some thoughts out, schedule a post for a week later, and then watch it go live as if I were still the person who wrote the words, still in that state of mind.
I had a couple of posts scheduled to go live this week but I cancelled them for now, putting them back in draft mode.
somehow it felt inauthentic to share hilarious rantings and a funny video I came across, post titled, “I laughed until I cried”, when I am not in that place right now.
the place I am in right now feels more like the Georgia O’Keefe painting above.
I saw it in person at the Whitney in NYC last year and I found myself in it.
I love how art does that. I love how one particular work might look like a random nothing to someone else, but to my soul it’s a mirror. (to be fair, anyone who feels nothing about Georgia O’Keefe’s work is missing out on something revelatory and transcendent in the world, and I’m sorry for your loss.)

I’ve spent the last four days in bed.
It started Saturday with a series of symptoms leading to a debilitating six hour stretch of the most intense physical pain I’ve ever experienced.
I have a tendency to embellish events when recounting them. I am not doing that here.
I had many of the symptoms of a complex migraine – seeing black and white flashes, blurry vision, excruciating pain behind my right temple, numbness and weakness on my left side, a total inability to function. This lasted over five hours.
Even as the attack tapered off in the seventh hour, the symptoms have not let up entirely. I still find myself not well, not feeling like myself, and entirely powerless.

Yes, I’ve seen my doctor. Yes it could be something more serious and yes, it could just be a complex migraine, which is bad enough. I find out more tomorrow after an MRI. But the reality that keeps gripping me is this:

I am powerless.
powerless against the forces of my body.
powerless in the face of death.

Sounds bleak and dramatic, I know. But Saturday’s attack so wrecked and re-sized me that I felt closer to the fact of my own mortality than ever before. I believed I might die here in this bed. Then, as a reprieve from the pain, I briefly wanted to. These have been hard days of waiting, lingering symptoms, and questions about what the MRI might reveal. They have been filled with way too much time on my hands to consider life, death, and how my body could so violently turn on me. I’ve even tried reasoning with it, like, “come on, pal. I thought we were in this grand adventure together! and then you go a pull a stunt like this…”

I don’t have a pretty bow to tie this up today. I’m never any good at those “and they all lived happily ever after..” endings in anyways. I always try it and then, ten minutes later, call BS on myself. Today I only have the painting. I feel the presence of mortality and morbidity in the skull. My lack of control, uncertainty of what happens next. Then a few wildflowers rise out of nowhere. The only beautiful presence in any of it – the Holy Spirit, a quiet partner and witness. Still, beyond my own doing or being – in my powerlessness, I am loved. I am not alone.

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ash parsons wow, kat,
what a generous and transparent thing you’ve shared here.. oh the power of art to reach for us! what a beautiful way of putting it! thank you for that and for connecting to where I am at and sending your gracious wishes for health. xo ashJanuary 16, 2017 – 10:51 am

Kat Williams Oh Ash, this sounds like an ordeal. 🙁 What a wise woman you are to try and find some context, even in the midst of it all. Georgia O’Keefe is incredible. I didn’t truly love her work until I saw the piece ‘Waves and Night’ though. It was the first time I felt the painting reaching out for me. I feel like I am standing on the edge of the sea listening to the waves roll into me every time I see it. It’s an effective image for the waves of life as well. Sending wishes for knowledge, health, and physical comfort out into the universe to you tonight. Be well. xJanuary 16, 2017 – 12:55 am

ash parsons thank you so much for that, Emily. xoJanuary 13, 2017 – 8:37 am

Emily Praying for you now <3January 13, 2017 – 12:19 am

ash parsons Steph, thank you for being so kind and empathetic and thank you for your prayers. resting and waiting and thankful you reached out. much love right back to you! xoJanuary 13, 2017 – 8:37 am

Stephanie Lyell Oh Ash, I am so sorry. I don’t think that there is too much more I can say, is there? I am praying, I am hoping in a day or week or month you will look back and say remember that weird migraine, that was strange. Rest, let people wait on you, and then rest some more. Much love to you.January 12, 2017 – 12:46 pm

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