Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dear Friends

Tonight I was going through some old photos of my dear friends, Cora and Susie, a pair of sisters I met one fall day in 2007 trawling the back roads of Appalachia Kentucky looking for an ACP workshop story. I saw these two beautiful wrinkled old women working their garden and stopped to sit and shoot the breeze and that day marked the beginning of our beautiful friendship and my two year documentary of their extraordinary lives. As I looked through the photos I felt a profound sense of loss as if their beautiful faces were no longer around to shine kindness in my direction and would never have another photographed taken of them. They were inching closer to 90 years old when I left and a part of me knew I would never see them again, but I never wanted to think it. I wonder if I remembered to tell them how special they were to me and how much taking me in like an odd stray bird and treating me like a daughter meant to me. I am so honored that our lives touched for such a brief moment and so happy that I could share their world for such a short time. But I will miss these two incredible angels. Angel's whose hands feel like the work roughened ones that took mine in Indonesia and the rusty voice that told me stories like that of my Korean grandmother, whose wrinkles creased with tears and sun are just the story lines of a life well lived, like those of the Nepali Sherpa. Feeling their loss made me think about death and how it's something that we never seem comfortable with as humans. I know it's because it's so final, it's The End, but you would think that like a good ending to a great book it would leave us with a feeling of peace and acceptance of the inevitable cycle of life. But it never feels like peace does it? A part of me recognized that it is the impermanence of life that makes it so special, that reminds us to revel in every moment and yet I fight against the very thing that makes this world so painfully beautiful. A good friend of mine said something that I thought was profound,
"If everything lasted forever, experiencing it would be meaningless."-AH
I hope to someday be comfortable enough with death and my own decay to cheer a beautiful, well lived life and to accept death as a natural process, as natural as being born...


Aaron said...

The fact that you see parallels between your experience with these women and experiences you have later in life is great!

At this risk of sounding new-age-cliche, we are all connected; those memories of that beauty will only be reinforced when you see them manifested in other places as well.

I can think of many books (and some movies) that I've read where, in spite of a good ending, I've been saddened by the journey being over. But finding parallels and connections between that which is gone and that which you have now will help keep those memories alive inside you. Keep doing that. :)

great post ;)

conniehollyer said...

really beautiful photos. You have a talent!!!!

Mandy McConaha said...

Aaron, super insightful!
Connie, thanks for the compliment! It's great to know people are checking out the blog all the way from the UK! :)

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