As we near the first anniversary of the terrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, it seems appropriate to turn to Ann Lamott (She of “Help,Thanks,Wow”) and her newest book, “Stitches,” subtitled “A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair.” By now we have learned the futility of asking “why” whether the catastrophe is a public one such as Katrina or Sandy, or 9/11 or a private one, a personal or family one of deep disappointment, sickness or death, or shame that shakes our entire world. But the question remains “How?” How do I, how do they, go on. When I hear or read of such tragedy, I am known to ask, “How does that person, those people, get themselves out of bed in the morning? How do they put one foot in front of the other?”

Stitches, the title of Lamott’s book comes from her comparison of the repair process to that of putting pieces of cloth together stitch by stitch. And here I defer to her description (pp. 37- 39):”The aspects of life that we have treasured over time are gone. We may feel as if we’ve been handed ugly patches for our quilt, patches that clash with one another. You can start to sew around the quilt squares with the same color embroidery thread. This unifies your incompatible patterns, textures and colors. The unifying colors can decrease the sense of shock, mismatch, and jostle that you feel.” “You take the next necessary stitch because without stitches you just have rags.” (p.83)

You say, “I’m not sure what you mean. What are the stitches?” The answer is that we are all in this (life) together. We lean on each other, we help each other out of Bunyan’s “Sloughs of despond.” We do this by listening, by touch, by small acts of kindness, even by standing there silently shoulder to shoulder. We do this by being there in whatever way we can. We reach out to help one another in the “journey from loss to hope.” (Michele Gay, a parent who lost a child at Newtown, as quoted in the Boston Globe on 12/11/13.) . And if we are the involved party, we accept that caring, that help, that light in the darkness. Her husband , Bob, when asked how you survive, responded, “You stay in the game of life.”

© Dorothy C. Judd

Next Post: Monday, December 16th







About twofelines

What to say? I love my family and friends. I also love kids, cats, and books. Oh, and potato chips and Cheez-its. I am a retired teacher who still loves to be in the classroom, so now I am a substitute teacher.
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4 Responses to Stitches

  1. Lisa Gross says:

    Hi Dee, This is so touching. I love the way you write. It always makes me feel. Love you, Lisa

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Ann says:

    Thank you. A perfect reminder and solace for these difficult days. Even holidays are difficult for many of us.

  3. Carol D'Agostino says:

    Thanks, Dotty. It is amazing how people “stay in the game of life” in very difficult times. Strength comes where and when it is needed most.

  4. efmcmahon says:

    This was so beautiful Dorothy. I haven’t had the chance to read Ann’s latest book, but I heard her interviewed about “Stitches” on NPR and Tavis Smiley, Such a beautiful and insightful perspective. Any time Newtown comes up, I just cry. It’s unfathomable, unthinkable. And it’s happened to families and children all over the world. But so many of those who’ve been knocked over by such tragedy are so strong in their resolve to turn their grief into something life affirming to make the world a better place that I am knocked over….and so humbled by their loving example. Yes, we just stand together and hug and love one another through the sad, the tragic, the unthinkable…thank you for your reflections. xo

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