(The) Architecture. (of) Lasting. Scars.

One year ago, in the mad burgeoning of early May, Nancy died.

In the still dawn this morning, I listen to a fountain flow on and on into silence.  I follow the shiny new light wetting oak leaves; from my porch I eye dead branches that want to fall on my tender hydrangeas.  I see the wrinkled wood siding of my neighbor’s grand and beautiful home rippled by the fire of 1861 and left as a sign, a testimony to the flames that swept down this street; flames that eradicated every other home save the one whose porch I’m perched upon and their lovely blistered one.

It is a point of interest with the horse-carriage drivers, to direct tourists in t-shirts toward these strange architectural wrinkles.  They are a sign that the past lives here, in the furrows and sagging flesh of the houses; that life in Charleston is scarred but not destroyed.  That we live among fresh blue mop heads and glistening morning light and we are a ravaged city.

On the other side of my house is an old cemetery – the church that went with it burned down in the same fire.  But the tombstones remain, and the residents there.  Occasionally an old man comes to pull the weeds and trim the dead palmetto fronds and honor the dead and their memory, 150 years passing.

 This time last year, Stephanie and her sisters rose to the pulpit, one by one, to build an altar of words to their mother, taken like a raging fire by ALS.  They made a house of their affection and memory, a strong, enduring house to live in, and invited us in.

Today, Stephanie moves through a lush, blossoming life with grace and optimism, her daughters opening their colorful petals, her work brimming with new vitality, her language growing greener and more textured with each writing.  Sometimes, she turns her face in just a certain way she knows nothing about, and suddenly I see the blisters as clear as the side of this house.  Not on the surface of her skin, but in the deeper fibers of loss and grief.  They striate any grand old house of memory.  Like a good scar, they linger long after healing, marking the way we came by.

I believe now more than ever that these trembling lines are beautiful, and human, and of the whole.  They are born of fire, they brand us for life. And if we attend them with unctions of awareness, if we apply to our own buckling surface a fierce kindness, as I have let Stephanie teach me in the balm of this passing year; I want to say: these scars, though lasting,  are strangely, searingly, blessed.

~ by Susan on 05/12/2012.

3 Responses to “(The) Architecture. (of) Lasting. Scars.”

  1. Beautiful. Your writing transports me back to a different time and era (and thanks for posting that great pic, too!), as well as the opportunity to contemplate my own scars and blisters in the blessed context of life. Don’t know if you intended this to be read over Mother’s Day weekend, or not. But it is truly timely and lovely. Thanks, Susan.

  2. As always, your words touch a deep, tender place. Thank you!

  3. It is interesting to learn that scars represent on the outside what has happened on the inside and is usually a sign of some kind of growth or healing. But at the time it was happening, it did not feel good. It was painful. Thank you for your beautiful expression of a life experience. Pris

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