March 23, 2020 by Grace Cooper
Cyber Circle: March 22nd
Our team aims to stay mission-driven during these questionable times. While the world feels like a sci-fi movie, we continue to encourage the writing and sharing of personal narratives. We continue to support shared reading and shared writing. We continue to rely on the most important of human traditions: sharing stories, because every story contains lessons for the audience. They spark questions and curiosity. Stories teach us to love. To forgive. To be just. To strive for something better. Stories connect us, even–or especially–when we feel isolated and alone.
Each afternoon, we at ConTextos will engage in shared reading and writing to help us connect, to reflect on our pasts, to envision the future. To author a brighter future. Over Zoom, we will provide a short reading or a prompt, write for no more than 10 minuets, and share our writings as a group. Please fill out this form if you’d to join us.
Prompts: A) All that you leave behind, or B) An absolutely remarkable thing.
All that you leave behind
Isn’t all that you carry.
It isn’t all that you have because
To unpack that would take too
long, be too
much, stick so
You’re so tired of bleeding.
No, all that you leave behind is only all that you can bear to face before turning to
embrace the unknown.
Hoping, quietly, that in the unknown lies new tools to pick-up:
new faces to wear,
new mantras and practices and tips and anecdotes and affirmations and routines
to drape over your current frayed self,
Hoping, quietly, that this new shit is at least incrementally better than
all that you left behind.
It happened quickly, the room filling with doctors, my sisters crowding in. The pregnancy was considered extremely high risk and throughout the delivery, storms of doctors would march through, each with a different interest, most in training; My sisters, also doctors, at one point threatened jobs and confronted a nurse. I remember when Mandy left the room to “make some things clear.”
We knew that they’d want to take the baby immediately when it was born, knew it’d need to have tests. As the delivery evolved, and the doctors continued to parade through, the threat grew extreme and they said they’d take the baby immediately without letting me see it first, no skin on skin. My sisters managed to persuade. Or, threaten might be better said.
So strange to look back and realize that during all that time, of course the months and months, but the labor, the drive, the arrival, the switching rooms, and the on and on of delivery with the doctors and the visits and the concerns and my sisters… through all that, we didn’t know if Ezra would be a boy or girl (not to project gender names on the baby, I would joked throughout pregnancy when people asked…). We knew it’d be Ezra, though, whatever the gender.
So they all crowded around, so many agendas, and the baby came out, and my sisters were holding me and then holding her and I heard them together say, it’s a girl, and the room transformed so many times in so few moments. The baby girl on my chest and my sisters’ hands on her and on me, and doctors running around as they set up whatever needed to be set up and started whatever tests and did whatever they do.
I turned to Michelle and said, I think she’s pretty. I’d been so prepared for how ugly new borns are, I remember meeting Hannah when she was just hours born and I, 14-years-old, being horrified by her crinkly skin and the broken blood vessels in my sisters face from having pushed so hard.
My sisters left quickly for lunch, my mother had come in, and she held me as they took the baby away, and maybe it was the anxiety or the medicines, but that hour after labor, as they were testing me and I guess testing Ezra somewheres away, I ached in so many pains, so much worse than even parts of labor, and leaned over the side and puked hot bile, and my mom held me and comforted me and it was a remarkable thing to have my mom mothering me in those first moments being a mother all alone.
Over time, I was transferred to a different room, put on clothes and lay in a bed. Michelle came to spend time with me, still so many hours later and the baby was still away. They said it’d be 8 hours, I think it was longer.
I don’t remember how I phrased it, but I remember saying that I’d heard people claim this immediate love of their child and I didn’t feel that. It’s fine, I thought, but not transformative.
Hours later, they brought Ezra in.
And remarkably, that immediate feeling was immediate after all.
What’s even more remarkable is how it grows….
An absolutely remarkable thing is the joy that I’m feeling amidst this scary, weird time. I’m joyful for all the kindness I am witnessing – in my neighborhood, through group emails, by this group – it is filling my heart immensely. I’m joyful because of what I think is possible as a result of this time we are living in. Will people reassess their lives? Wonder if the things they were pursuing before – perhaps more selfish things – may not be as important – may not be worth their time or money? From selfish to selfless? Will people wonder how their role in this world, in their community could shift?
I worry that this time could condense people’s anger, or resentment, or greed. How could that be? It could. But like so many things in this world that we judge – that I judge – maybe we could/should – I could/should – check myself. I firmly, completely, from the core of my soul believe that most people in this world – 99% -are really really good people. I believe that so many people have suffered pain, trauma, injustice. Those that have – or haven’t – have the responsibility to help people who have suffered to heal.
God, I’m sounding so judgy. Am I a judgy person? Do I think I know better than others? I hope that is not the case but I think I need to use some of this time to look deep inside – deep in that core of the soul of my beliefs – to question myself. How can I be a better contributor – judge less act more. Be more empathic? Especially towards my son. Can I be more empathic to those I think are the worst of the worse? Like the orange man in DC. I have always told Jonah that if people are mean, hurtful, it is often because they are hurt and act out because of it. Can I think that way about Orange Man? Not sure I can because he is so incredibly destructive. We talk about the 1%. Is he part of the 1% of destructive, icky people? I dunno….
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