Wednesday, December 11, 2013


There are few people in the world from whom I will tolerate a harangue. My grandmother is one. (If you've met her, I'm sure you're smiling knowingly.) My friend Sasha's mom Lyudmila is another.

Lyudmila is usually soft-spoken, but every once in a while she takes up the mantle of the Russian Babushka and let's you know what's wrong with the world. (If you've ever had a grey-haired woman you've never met walk up to you in a public place in Moscow and tell you that you'll never get a man if you don't dress better and put on some makeup, I'm sure you're smiling knowingly.)

Several weeks ago, I stopped at Sasha's to visit for a bit. While I was taking my coat and boots off, I heard tsking behind me, and when I stood up, the harangue started:

"Still in black! Katyusha, why? How long has it been? Months! This is not what Adam would want. You are so young! He would want you to live and to be happy and to finish your studies. To live. Not this. Katyushenka, it's time."

Then she went to make the tea.

It was the most loving harangue I've ever received. And she was right. It's time.

Moving back to color is not as easy as embracing black was. The line of demarcation is much less sharp. I didn't have a choice about entering this space between end and beginning; Adam's instant and unexpected death plunged me into the wilderness. Moving through and emerging on the other side, however, has to be my choice. It's not necessarily an easy choice. I've gotten used to the wilderness, I've adjusted to the landscape, but I know I can't stay here forever.

So, I'm trying on color again. I haven't unpacked all the things I put away, just pulled out the warmest things or the things I missed. And there may be some days that the black that has represented me to the world for these months will offer the most comfort.

My friend Erin, who pointedly complimented my purple sweater when she came to visit this week, gave me a beautiful image for this process of moving toward beginning. She said that at first I looked like I was carrying a burden that bowed my shoulders and weighed me down, that she could see it in my posture and hear it in my voice. But now, when she looks at me she sees one of those women who carry baskets of produce or jugs of water balanced neatly on their heads with beautiful posture and seeming effortlessness. (If you've ever experienced what a klutz I can be, I'm sure you're smiling knowingly.)

I am so blessed to have wise people who can tell me what they see kindly and lovingly and just when I need to hear it.

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