The Oxford Temma

The Oxford Temma

Temma and I together in Itasca, Illinois while her Papa, Tim, is in Oxford with the painting “The Oxford Temma” as a gift to the St. Luke Church Community there.

The photo of Temma and I on Tim’s computer screen with “The Oxford Temma” painting in the background brings to me some embodiment of my relationship with Temma and the transformations it has gone through and is going through even now.

(Temma)
My life has never been fully my own. I share it with you and with many others. You belong to me and I belong to you. I let everything escape, all memory and good-will.

(me)
Slowly, slowly, and ever more slowly you work like a kaleidoscope Temma, all of the broken and tattered and cut-up pieces of your life and of your body coming together to bring about a beauty unknown to me.

(Temma)
I am waiting for you Mama. Waiting and waiting.

(me)
What are you waiting for, sweetie?

I’m waiting for you to see me and love me.

(me, 1987)
I do see you and I do love you. But I know now what you mean. I never really see you. I only see the part that I want to see. I am still carrying you on my back, waiting for the Savior to come and take you away. I am down on my hands and knees at times because I cannot walk upright.

Both of us break apart as pieces of the kaleidoscope. Our Community coming apart at almost the same time. And I smash the car. Oh, I could drive it away, all right. I am driving a group of community members to an ecumenical worship service. I come to a place to turn and want to turn left toward Elizabeth House. I am set to go that direction until those in the car yell out, “No, Sherrie, turn right here, turn right.” Without looking I turn the car to the right, in front of the car ready to come around me.

I smash the car again. Our emergency brakes do not work well so that when parking the car in the driveway we need to place bricks behind the wheels. I’m ready to go to work so I take the bricks away, the car backs down the driveway and smashes into the B.’s truck, parked in the street. We have got to move Temma. I have to get out of this space. I’ve got to turn, to find my own way, apart from you. You are not present for me, I’m swallowed up by you. I’ve turned myself inside of you, smashing my way out. I’m angry and tired, oh so tired.

What faces me now is an emptiness, a gaping silence.

(me, 2014)
We embrace each other now, you and I, Temma Day. We embrace each other’s pain. We know each other, at least I try to know you. Our fates are intertwined. I share you and you share me.

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