Words From My Silly Putty Heart


Drawing For AnnaThere is a pastel drawing on the wall in my Dad’s room at the seniors’ home. Three tall yellow roses standing amid coloured stones, and a backdrop of words repeated over and over. A mantra. ‘I need a shatterproof heart.’

The yellow roses are my Nana, my Mom, and me. The title is ‘Drawing For Anna’. The drawing is fifteen years old.

I wake this morning, thinking exactly that mantra.

I convince myself to write morning pages. What comes in my pages—I need a heart made of silly putty. Bendable, squishable, stretchable. Break silly putty apart and it always smooshes back together again.

Yes, I say in my pages. I need a silly putty heart.

It is late afternoon now, as I write this blog post, and I decide I already have a silly putty heart. All this summer, my heart has been squashed and broken into every shape of every emotion between joy and grief. And every time, somehow, my heart moves back into the shape of love.

A silly putty heart in love shape, I decide, is two hands cupped together, large enough to hold with care all that shows up.

Right now my silly putty cupped heart is holding a lot.

There are today’s naked feelings around my parents’ aging and illness. There is the wanting of a good life and graceful leaving for them, and the feeling this is not terribly possible despite the best we do.

There is the knowledge of being parent to my parents, making difficult decisions, not something I expected.

There is the desperate need of doing something, anything, creative. My heart knows drawing and writing hold me together.

And in this moment, in my silly putty heart, here is the mid-September sun warm on my bare feet, the breeze that smells of the ocean, the rocking of the porch swing as I sit and move my pen across the papers in my lap.

My heart offers me words that soothe and settle the naked, painful feelings. Offers me this moment of beauty. Sun and breeze and the porch swing.  The loud cricket choir that begins singing in just this moment.

I wonder, in my morning pages, what to call this mess of feelings that touch all places between joy and grief.

I have my answer.

It’s called life.

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