Held

 |  June 1, 2022
Encaustic mixed media "Held" by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Held, encaustic mixed media, 11.5x 5.75 inches

My head shot up, my ears picking up the cries of alarm from my sister in the other room. I dropped what I was doing and ran to my mom’s home office where my sister was often sitting in her chair, surrounded by blankets. She was there, arms out stiff, her face pale and trembling and her eyes big and turning up and to the side. She called out, no words, not yelling, not crying, indescribable. But having been raised to respond to my sister’s seizures, it was simply a call for help.

I ran to her side, and made sure she was sitting up and her mouth open so she wouldn’t choke, and then most importantly, I held her. I hugged her and said, “I’m here. You’re not alone. I love you. I’m here”.

Our other sister who also heard the seizure came running into the room and takes her place on her other side, and puts her arm around her, “It’s ok. I’m here. We’re here. We love you. It’s going to be ok. You’re not alone”.

And the three of us held each other and rocked together until her cries subsided and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

******

My sister developed epilepsy as well as blindness in the early 70s during her experimental chemotherapy treatments. As the youngest sister with the missive to look out for my older blind sister, the seizures were the most frightening. I remember wondering where she’d go during those tense moments. She always looked scared and I thought, maybe, lost. And I think, that’s why in our children’s minds, we would tell her, we’re here, you’re not alone. There’s nothing we could do really other than making sure her airways were free and then running to get an adult. But what we could do, was be present. To hold her and say we know you’re scared, we’re scared too, but we are together.

I’ve been wanting to write this since the shooting in Buffalo, NY. But I just couldn’t find the words. And then the shooting in Uvalde, TX happened, and again, I was without words How do we face such atrocities over and over again?

There’s so much grief and sadness and outrage and uncertainty. And then the arguing. And then the numbing. That’s almost the worst for me.

If only we could all find that space to be present, to hold each other and protect each other to the best of our abilities. How do we show up for each other?

I created this piece this year but at least 2 months ago. It took me a long time to come up with the title. And it came to me after the first tragedy. I just felt like it gave off a feeling of tenderness and vulnerability, but also a feeling of being held.

A lot of pieces include stitched fabric and they literally refer to mending and repair. How do we mend a broken world?

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