I've mentioned, I do believe, just how fulfilling and downright necessary (and many other adjectives besides) the art group is for me at work, for many reasons.
This week and last week in particular, it's offered something else which also feels crucial to me at present: containment. Today's group was hectic, demanding, intense, as it usually is when we've a certain amount of attendees: so many people requiring input and guidance right now - usually 3 or more at any given moment in time. Like a nest full of baby sparrows (why sparrows? I dunno) all straining their beaks aloft for the promise of food.
That could make it sound like I'm getting a little grandiose about my own position in this regard - and I was sorely tempted to replace the word food in that last sentence with some kind of preposterous phrase like the worm of artistic guidance, but I couldn't stand the tension in thinking that anybody reading this might think I'm being serious.
Well the serious point has already been made: it's hectic, very hectic. A couple of hours of relentless activity, usually trying to do at least three things at once whilst contemplating a fourth and vaguely weighing up a fifth. So I'm left exhausted, and - especially at the moment - all the better for it.
The weekend, I went to see my mother and grandmother, the former having just come out of hospital. It doesn't feel right to go into any detail here, though I'll go as far as to say that she has some injuries to recover from, which will take some weeks at least: and given that she has other health conditions which don't exactly make life straightforward...well at the very least it's fortunate that things are no worse than they are.
I was glad to be over to see her, and not make a fuss of her. We don't really do fuss: I think she would be embarrassed if not annoyed if I was constantly asking if she was ok and if there was anything I could do for her. Nonetheless I asked her to tell me whenever something needed to be done, and she did so.
Clearly she was in far less discomfort than in the first few days after this situation came to pass, and that was a relief. She will continue to improve over the next few weeks.
What is currently exercising my mind though, is that - whatever the short term prospects - it signifies the potential for change in the longer term. It wouldn't be true to say that things won't be the same because really, things haven't entirely been the same for some time. Little differences very gradually, almost imperceptibly chipping away at whatever I'm referring to as being the same. This latest is very much on that continuum, but shockingly tangible in its immediacy, its rawness. What kind of a shadow it serves to cast beyond that, remains to be seen.
So it felt less easy to see my grandmother also, since I was carrying such thoughts.
(Perhaps I'm being morose - but I think this is also about starting - and only starting - to come to terms with what may be a period of adjustment.)
She (my grandmother) makes herself tiny these days, I don't know how: she crumples herself into the chair, hugging the cushion and keeping warm in front of the fire. In response seemingly to nothing in particular, her sturdiest moment was when she fixed me with a stare and informed me that she doesn't feel like dying just yet - and then she smiled.
These are precious moments, all of them. I'll make reference to another which I don't feel able to fully share here. It was as I was leaving: letting myself out, rather than her getting up to walk me to her front door, which is more of an effort now. She shouted something after me, which stopped me in my tracks, so poignant was it.
So. The art group today did a heck of a lot for me in terms of containment of my thoughts and feelings and I've come home feeling tired but energised, if there's any sense in such an apparent contradiction. I feel ok right now, regardless.
Well.....ok apart from one thing, about which I feel very annoyed. Annoyed? No, absolutely fucking furious. I need a rant, but I don't want to do it here, so I'll be ringing a good friend. Sorry to be so cryptic, but I feel it will be better done verbally than written down.