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...