Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Rare Thing of Beauty...

This photo was taken shortly after I was woken up from anesthesia six years ago.  I had an aggressive form of skin cancer and they operated on me to remove the tumor and the surrounding margins. I had to eat some crackers and drink the smallest can of ginger ale I've ever seen before they would release me.

The reason that I post this is that it is perhaps where "Allegory Gallery" was born.  It didn't have a name then.  When I had returned home from the hospital, I had a hard time sleeping.  The skin bordering the area that they removed (just shy of half a square foot) was pulled tight and cinched with staples.  Before the surgery, I slept on my stomach or my side, but since there was seven inches of stapled skin just below my armpit on one side, it provided difficult to get comfortable.  It felt like I had a corset on and every time I moved or shifted, a shock of pain would erupt from my side.  Those first few nights were hard.

Falling in and out of a restless sleep, awoken by jabs of pain, I would lay in the dark with tears welling in my eyes.  I wasn't alone though.  Around me were the kittens.  Paulo and Babette stayed by my side constantly and purred deeply.  Next to me was William.  When they tell stories of recovery, often times the significant other gets left out.  The trauma of facing your mortality sometimes makes you myopic and you can only focus on your own survival.  But there was William and he was facing his own worries.  He had to be strong for me and take care of everything and that's not easy.  He's a worrier by nature and often times internalizes stressful situations.  I remember us laying there in the dark, trying to find sleep, but being unsuccessful.

I turned to him, instantly regretting the decision to move as a thunderbolt of pain jolted through my side, and asked, "Are you awake?"

He whispered back, "Yeah..."

We laid there in the dark, blankets piled high on me, surrounded by purring cats, and we did the only thing we could.  We talked about the future.  We made grand plans and daydreamed out loud.  We talked until the syllables lost meaning and we both drifted off to sleep.

One of those dreams was to have our own store.  I remember telling him that one day, someday, down the road, I wanted to have my own little shop.  I told him a story of a place I used to go as a kid and a teenager, a store filled with treasures.  I told him about how I discovered myself there and met so many people and it had helped shape my life.  If I couldn't get a ride with one of my friends, I used to take the bus for over an hour to get there.  What I loved about that place was that it was filled with stories and it acted as a focal point for the community.  Likeminded people traveled from all over to be there.  And in so many ways, it was magic.

As we plan for the future and work on our fundraising efforts, I can't help but think back to those sleepless nights, where a dream was born.  Out of the pain and restlessness, a tiny shining pearl was discovered.  We've taken that pearl and nurtured it with all our love and best intentions, and it has grown in size and lustrousness and has become a rare thing of beauty.


Joan Tucker said...

stitched up, stapled
tucked in bed
william too
scared and fearful
telling stories
sharing dreams
building a life
out of fear and staples
and love and hope
and the magic continues
today with dreams
of more bling
and stories and
Love Joan t 2016

Shai Williams said...

And the community that you two have built is also a thing of beauty. Thank you.

Seven Wild Winds by Jeryl said...

I love to read. I love to read what you write. You have such a beautiful way with words and I can feel the deep thought and feeling that goes into everything that you write. I wonder if writing a book was a part of the discussion that night six years ago...

Anonymous said...

I always feel comforted by your selfless writtings. Thank you. I move forward a little more each day knowing Im going in MY direction.

Linda Landig said...

What a gift to know the story behind your shop. And Joan, what a lovely poem.

LauraSouderStudio said...

Beautiful, Andrew.

Joan Tucker said...

Hugs to you both

Donna Millard said...

Beautiful words by beautiful people, embroidered together with a commonality of love, love and art.

Unknown said...

Andrew, you are such a strong person and so lucky to have someone by your side who loves you so deeply. I'm so happy you're still here with us to spread your beauty around our town. I'm glad to know you & William. Dreams really do come true, you're living proof!