Friday, November 13, 2009


Tears were never allowed. They were kept inside, until they welled to the top and blew like Mt. Vesuvius. The explosion was always kept under wraps and in complete darkness never to be shared with a single living soul. No one knew my pain…until Judy. I appeared to be the perfect little child, alive with laughter and obedient in my behavior. Negative emotions didn’t have a place in this perfect little image I’d adorned for myself. I fooled them all. But, not Judy, no one else looked long enough to see what her eyes saw.

My emotional savior, she taught me to cry. She is my Natcha, my nursemaid, the arms that held me in when I needed holding more than anything else. She’s taught me tears and helped make room in my little boxed in life for emotion. When the first twinges of despair would rise up, Judy would catch them like butterflies in a net. She would hold them out to admire before I’d snatch them back in. Judy knew pain and Judy knew sorrow; like well worn shoes, she’d broken in for dancing. Never turning away her pain like a beggar in the street, she’d nourish her wounds and leave room for them to heal. Taking it all in she used it for the strengthening of her soul.

Visiting her mother’s house, one summer afternoon, all the stories I’d heard of her life came together. Puzzle pieces scattered across the floor.. they began to creep up, forming a perfectly elaborate picture. It all started to make sense. Taking me from room to eccentric room my memory rehearsed the tales as if they were being played out in front of me. Viewing a rare Diego Rivera painting, found by her parents on a trip to Mexico, she began to tell me new stories; stories of a woman that helped her live through tragedy.

Judy taught me of Frida Kahlo. She told me of this woman who was crippled with pain and sorrow; but was not marked for her pain, but known for her stunning talent to beautifully express that which plagued her. Through her roses and rods Frida expressed what many others could never comprehend. I sat in awe of her displays, page after page, story after story of rejection, of passion, of frustration and anger. Frida lived fully with colorful rage and exuberance, continually conscious of grief and torment. Her bones were broken and re-broken through thirty surgeries. Chronic pain knew no other. But, she lived; she thrived and became one of the most celebrated modern artists.

My festering sores of sorrow were not brought on by a bone crushing accident or a ravaging disease, but crippling none the less; stress and despair deteriorating me from the inside out. Wounds so deep, some still remain untouched, hidden unable to be healed; old gashes still surfacing to cause me grief. I suppose Frida’s rage wouldn’t allow her torment to be hidden. Judy’s lament made room for other’s pain to be expressed and has taught mine to become my song. Judy said, “Like a bird with broken wings learning to fly... your distress will teach you how to sing.”

Today I am without the will to fly and my song seems to seep out only in screams. I need Frida and Judy to be my strength; to guide me through this heart ache. I see myself as an eight year old girl again, walking hand in hand with my Judy to lead me, through Frida’s greatest exhibit, to wander in silence with tear filled eyes to let Frida in to express my pain in ways I never knew how. Perhaps their stories will continue to teach me and moment by moment, I will let my butterflies fly and heal my broken wings.

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