I am what calls out for love . . .

This is PART TWO of a series. To start from the beginning, go here.

This is an excerpt from The Deep Water Leaf Society: Harnessing the Transformative Power of Grief (copyright 2008, Claire M. Perkins. All Rights Reserved.)

from chapter 13: Voices from the Big Wave

Between funeral arrangements and a steady stream of visitors, some weeks passed before I got around to dialoguing with The Big Wave collage images.

The process of journaling dialogue with images involves writing with both hands. My dominant hand, the one I normally write with, speaks for my conscious self and asks questions of the images. My non-dominant hand answers the questions, speaking for the image.

It is an amazing process that works because the non-dominant hand has direct access to the right hemisphere of the brain, where intuition, emotion and spiritual connection reside. It was an awkward process at first. Once I got used to it and allowed the non-dominant hand to just write, uncensored by the critical voice or the logic of the left brain, I found that amazing insights would arise.

I sat down to dialogue with the images in the Big Wave collage toward the end of May, several weeks after Cameron’s death. I was wiped out, emotionally and physically. I was searching for answers to that unanswerable question, “Why?” It took me two days, several days apart, to dialogue with each and every image in the collage. The messages they gave me were profound and brought me much needed peace and healing.

(I am highlighting one of these dialogues in each post of this series. The questions of the dominant hand are noted (DH) and the answers of the images, transcribed by my non-dominant hand, are noted (NDH).)

5/24/04 Dialogue with Baby in the Galvanized Tub

Me (DH): Hello little boy being bathed – who are you?

Baby (NDH): I am what calls out for love, for nurturing. I am content with simple things. I am well loved.

(DH): Do you have a name?

(NDH): My name is Earth Child.

(DH): Earth Child, how do you feel?

(NDH): I am sad for the mother who loves me so but thinks that she hasn’t enough to give.

(DH): Why do you feel this way?

(NDH): Because love is all I have ever needed. She cries for me but doesn’t see she’s given me the greatest gift of all.

(DH): But you live in poverty. She doesn’t know how she will feed you. Your life expectancy is so short. She bathes you in gutter water. The city is full of disease. She cries for the you that could have been – that should have been. She cries for not knowing how to heal you.

(NDH): She loves me. That is all. That is enough.

(DH): What can I do for you?

(NDH): Don’t become cold. Never give up on the power of love.

(DH): What gift or wisdom do you bring me?

(NDH): I show you the power of your heart.

The grieving and broken-hearted part of me was angry with the idea the love was enough. How could it be enough when my son’s life had been cut so short, when he had faced such difficulty despite my loving him? I argued with the photo in its own terms – gutter water and Third World poverty – but what my heart was really crying out was that in the midst of plenty, in the midst of middle-class white-bread suburbia, with every opportunity and all the love I could give, my son was still dead at the age of 26. How could love be enough? But the child in the photo insisted that it was and some part of me opened up to receive that message.

to be continued . . .

As always, I welcome your comments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: www.DeepWaterLeafSociety.com

The Big Wave

This is an excerpt from The Deep Water Leaf Society: Harnessing the Transformative Power of Grief (copyright 2008, Claire M. Perkins. All Rights Reserved.) The book tells the story of my journey through grief into healing after the death of my son in 2004. Cameron overdosed while serving a short sentence in the county jail for parole violation. He was 26 years old and had been struggling with addiction for several years.

Dreams, art and journaling played a significant role in my healing, and I share a bit of my process here in the hope that these techniques might help someone else work through their own grief.

from chapter 9: Drowning

Five days before Cameron died, while I thought him to be safe and sound, cooling his heels in the county jail, I had a dream that grabbed me and would not let me go. The dream experience settled into my heart, leaving it heavy with foreboding. The dream was a simple vignette, yet it shook me deeply. And it carried a mystery I felt compelled to understand.

April 28, 2004 – The Big Wave
I am watching a huge wave break. The water comes all the way up into city streets. In a room, a small boy has peed himself. I think he must have seen or heard the wave crash and been frightened. He is holding a small fish in a baggie of water. There’s a tiny eyeball floating in the water, too. I believe it is food for the fish.

I awoke from this dream knowing it carried a profoundly important message for me. It was an odd sort of dream in that it was very visually oriented, like I was looking at a snapshot of a scene. There was not much action, just a sense of the overwhelming power of the wave and the vulnerability of the little boy. I had a vague notion it might have something to do with Cameron and it left me feeling uneasy.

I was quite taken with the process of collaging from magazine photos, words and phrases. This dream, so visual in nature, seemed a natural fit for collage. I was anxious to dive into my magazine stash and see how the dream story might evolve through the medium of collage.

I began the collage early on the following Friday evening, April 30, 2004. I became completely engrossed in the process of selecting images, many of which seemed to be selecting me as I was not sure what they had to do with the dream story or how they would fit in. While most of the collage work I had done to date had been heavy on words and phrases, this one, like the dream, was nearly exclusively image-based.

I worked on the collage non-stop until about three in the morning when I glued the last of the pictures down. I was intrigued by the result as there was much more to it than there had been in the dream itself. It was as if the collage had grown organically from the seed of the dream, as if I’d continued dreaming in the creation of the collage.

Many kinds of water images filled the collage: skyscraper buildings superimposed over images of turbulent waves; dark, stormy, violent waters; placid still water reflecting the setting sun; a huge aquarium; a speckled trout drifting in a still green pond. There were also several images of children: a baby being washed in a galvanized tub on some Third World city street; a little girl peering around a Christmas tree, eyes filled with wonder; two little dark-haired, dark-eyed boys vaguely reminiscent of Cameron in his youth. Two women, likely representing aspects of myself, sat at the bottom right as if contemplating or experiencing the scenes above. In the top left corner, there was a surfer riding the waves and that image puzzled me the most as the action and vitality of it seemed out of place in the otherwise moody and somnolent feeling of the overall piece.

I was anxious to try a form of journaling dialogue in which I would be able to talk with the collage images and learn their secrets. But it was too late to begin. I went to bed more curious than ever about the message of the dream.

A busy weekend went by. I had no time to attempt the dialogue process. Then came that fateful Monday morning, May 3, 2004, when the jail death detectives came to my door to tell me Cameron was dead.

A few days later Mary, a dear friend of mine who has since joined Cameron on the other side, came by to offer her condolences and a home cooked meal. She noticed the collage, which I’d propped on a bookcase in my home office, and she asked me about it. I told her about the dream and the obsession I’d had to collage it. I told her that now I could see it had been a premonition, that I had seen the wave that would finally swallow my son.

Mary told me that as she had meditated that morning she had gone looking for Cameron and she had met with him.

She said to him, “Cameron, I’m worried about your mom and dad. This has been a life altering event for them.”

He reportedly replied with a grin, in true Cameron style, “Yeah, it’s been a bit life altering for me, too!” I knew she’d had a true conversation with him, because that was exactly the kind of thing he’d say, and she didn’t know him well enough to know that.

I just chuckled. A smart ass to the very end . . . and beyond!

to be continued in future posts . . .

As always, I welcome your comments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: www.DeepWaterLeafSociety.com