11.11.10

courage



Today is Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom. Less than an hour ago, we had our two minutes silence. According to the Wikipedia definition, it is also called Poppy Day or Armistace Day and is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries to remember the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in times of war, specifically since the First World War. And I just discovered (wow I've lived here a long time to have forgotten) it's Veteran's Day in America.

While it wasn't intentional, I feel that the red of Roz's lipstick - which I sent in a little get well package because I know how a bit of colour can cheer someone up - is a nice tribute to 'Poppy Day'.




Last night we had our annual Executive Committee Meeting for our beautiful garden square, and one of our members, Major Bobby Collins, couldn't attend because walking the steps to where the meeting is held, at my dear friend Barbara Clapham's home (she is 98) is becoming more difficult for him. I will call him soon as I send this, to arrange a visit. I feel we honour those brave people who have made our lives safe every day, but am moved to tears by the collective power of specific moments like this morning: people in different places, coming together in Remembrance.




There are many kinds of courage. There is physical courage: walking into battle, whatever form that battle takes (sometimes, it's simply showing up at work, or school, knowing that what you're facing that day is not going to be fun). The courage to face our fears, however small or silly those fears might be to others. The courage to CHOOSE to view even the most horrible things by finding something - anything - in that experience to be grateful for. The courage to choose to be happy, or to feel lucky, regardless of the circumstances.

What I have seen in recent weeks, watching the courage displayed by not just Rosalind, aka Roz, of Clothes, Cameras and Coffee, has been so inspiring that I haven't been able to write about my experience. If you go to Roz's post you'll be able to read her account of the complications that happened after the surgery. As the events were unfolding, her amazing mom, Polly - who is now a good friend - was keeping me posted by beautifully eloquent emails. Can you imagine how terrifying it was, for her family: she was home from the hospital (at her grandmother's beautiful house in London), walking, and suddenly crashes to the ground and has to be rushed back to hospital.

Or, imagine: the day after surgery, when her organs, having been stretched to fit the newly lengthened spine, started freaking out and she had twelve hours of her digestive system reacting to the shock by involuntary gagging. Apart from a brief mention by her that 'it was the worst day of my life', the things she wanted to talk about - such a wide range, she is such an intelligent girl - we all about the most positive things. I find there is a direct proportion to how happy - and popular - people are, and to how much their interests lie outside their own self and their own problems.

She spoke of luck, over and over again. How wonderful everyone has been. There is something incredible - I know from my own experiences - about surviving what is the worst thing you can imagine. Each day after that feels like a miraculous celebration.

I waited this long to post photos because I simply couldn't choose, and couldn't find the words to describe my visit, which was actually in three magic acts: lunch, cake, garden. These shots are from the garden. The light was going and she still had a walk with her dad planned to the top of Primrose Hill and back, and it was cold and wet but the light was magic as we walked in the secret garden behind her grandmother's house. Roz was saying how lucky she was to find this cape really cheaply at a 'car boot sale'. But especially, how proud and grateful she clearly was to show me that her twisted pearl necklace, designed to echo her once twisted spine, was a gift from the most generous spirit: Maya, of Bye Bye Soccer Mom. Soon as she read about Roz, she asked for her address and went to the post office and sent her gift from America. She also sent me a cookbook from her home country, Georgia, which I cherish (an ex boyfriend was from Georgia, his mum was an amazing cook, and I love that cuisine). It is these generous souls: the people who take action to help other people, rather than wallow in self pity, who inspire me.

Sorry to be waffling so long. Better to read her post 'wrapped in support' as this is her and her family's experience, not mine. I'm just bearing witness. And feeling so nourished and in a way, healed, in the process.

This post is also dedicated to my father, Art Carin, who died in 2003. He was a Veteran of the United States Army, and he, with my mother, taught me, by example, everything I'd ever need to know about courage, generosity of spirit, and seeing life in the best possible light.

15 comments:

Verena. said...

Amazing post and pics!

http://ovovia.blogspot.com/

MarĂ­a said...

Me encanta lo que escribes, eres preciosa!
Un besito!

The Photodiarist said...

Beautiful photographs of Roz!

daisychain said...

Incredible post Jill, just incredible.

ByeByeSoccerMom said...

Oh Jill, what a post. I got goosebumps on my skin reading it. You are an amazing soul yourself and I wish I really knew you.
And Roz, of course! She is incredible as well. I am truly honored she like the necklace. She is so beautiful seems like any picture of her would be great but I love the last one especially. Youthful beauty against that weathered old tree trunk. Roz is so young- yet wise beyond her age.
Her classic beauty reminds me of Pre-Rafaellites' art.
And Jill, I really appreciate your sweet comment. It brightened up my day. Thank you, friend!
xx
maya

Miki's scrapbook said...

Awe, Jill, this was an amazing post; and it was so sweet of you to send Roz a package to cheer her up.

Hug!

Miki.

the Citizen Rosebud said...

ah, it's these kind of posts that make me love you so much.

somehow you share with us parts of the human experience that are difficult to wrap up, and you pull us into it.

and Roz. What a bright spirit! am amazed how I can feel so attached to a young girl I've never met, but her impact of spirit is that huge- it reaches across the Atlantic, in her words and images and safely tucks itself inside our hearts.

thank-you for this cherished remembrance.

kate said...

we have today the Independance Day in Poland. it's connected with the results of the First World War, it's very important holiday in Poland. just to let you know :)

polka dot said...

Thank you, Kate. I just went to each of your blogs but I don't know if you're looking at them - they didn't seem current, and I didn't see an email address, but wanted to let you know what a strange coincidence this was: at the same moment that you left your comment, I suddenly realised it was Veteran's Day in the United States, too: I updated my post at the time you left that. How wild is that! And yes, I think it all started when the First World War ended, on 11th November, and now applies to everything since. Wouldn't it be wonderful if one day it only applies to wars in the past, because war is a thing of the past.

Thank you each of you. You're such lovely people.

Caryn said...

Beautiful. I hope Roz is feeling better!

carrott said...

So beautiful, Jill. I really love reading these posts. You're such a great friend. I think it was so kind of you to send the lipstick. It would've made my day. Wonderful post. xxx

Hedvig said...

A very beautiful post Jill, this is what you do best, the way you touch people with words and images, that's a gift, hope you know that!
xx

Style Odyssey said...

there are many layers to this poignant post...i'll try to focus on a few things:

"...there is a direct proportion to how happy - and popular - people are, and to how much their interests lie outside their own self and their own problems."
true words of wisdom.

can you imagine, at such a young age, going through what roz has endured? really does put things in perspective.

roz has inner beauty, which shines, even in the aftermath of major surgery (i can tell she's lost weight, been through...something big, from the photos).

your dear dad...i didn't realize he was a veteran. my dad too, also my husband, and my brother...an uncle...we all have someone to honor today.

i'll stop there. i could go on...what a special post, Jill. hedvig is right: you have a gift; thank you for using it through your blog and your friendship.

Pearl Westwood said...

Such a lovely post Jill, I would also like to say how wonderful it is here in the blogosphere, you, Roz and Maya are some of the nicest people I have met, big hugs to you all xxx

Sarah-Leigh said...

Truly beautiful post.

Sarah-Leigh
http://sarah-leighsstylefiles.blogspot.com/
x