Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Years ago I saw the AIDS quilt--or part of the AIDS quilt. It's too big to be shown all in one place. How many football fields does it cover now? Anyway, just to see a piece of it was something. To walk around the squares and feel the depth of love and loss was overwhelming. Each of those squares represented a whole person's life. And each square represented the creativity of the families and friends of the person who had died, who cared enough to make a thing of beauty to commemorate their loved one. Some were very simple, with just a name and perhaps an image sewn on. Others looked like they had been designed by a team of theater professionals.

Individually, they were all beautiful. Taken all together...I wish there were another word for overwhelming besides overwhelming.

So it is with Carla's life right now. I know my little piece of it, the square I sewed with her, memories and conversations I will always cherish. But it's only a small piece in what is a phenomenon too big too colorful, too gorgeous and various and painful and shining and hilarious for any one person to take in in its entirety.

There are people all over the continent--and who knows, maybe all over the world-- who have bigger and smaller pieces of relationship with Carla, from all of her students to the mothers in her moms' group, from audience members and folks who only know her from her blog to her intimate family members. And it's all part of this enormous quilt of life that would need an untold number of hundred football fields to show.

The ripples go out and out. This is what it means to be an artist. There's no telling where the ripples end because...maybe they don't. Maybe the people you brush with your creativity, the lives you ignite, go on to ignite other lives and in the end the result in incalculable.

Whitman said, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am vast, I contain multitudes." And so do we all, probably. Very few of us realize as many of our multitudinousness as Carla has, but they are there, even buried. And that vastness of life is available to all of us, heartbreakingly beautiful, shining in the dark...


Perfect Girl said...

This is so beautiful. And to tie it into the quilt is so touching.

Congratulations for Christopher getting Teacher of the Year, and thank you for introducing me to Carla, and Maclen, and all of the people loving her.

I only know everyone from the blog, but they are now a part of my daily thoughts. I loved the scarves on the bed and the Gerber daisies.

Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

thanks, from me, too for introducing me to carla and her blog. there is such a heavy sadness in my heart, in all our hearts, for the near-ending of such a life as hers.

Kate Bartholomew said...

I have never met Carla in person either but am lighting a candle to this latest post tonight, wishing her safe passage. You write so heartfully about her truly incalculable effects in the world.

Anonymous said...

Alison, the poem you posted on Carla's blog is so, so beautiful and so fitting. Thank you. I am heartbroken that Carla is leaving us. I think of her all the time now. You were blessed to have had such a friend (and she, you.)
With love,

laurie b said...

you are an amazing friend and a wonderful writer. much like wilbur's friend in charlotte's web. thank you for writing about and reminding us of what is real and meaningful.

Jane said...

So glad you gave me Carla's blog address. I did go there, and from there to here. I just read your last several posts, and they were wonderful, enriching my sense of you and of Carla . . . and of Christopher. :-) Oh, and of myself, too.

Oh, and of the world.

Thanks, dear Alison.