Sunday, December 11, 2011

The body knows what the mind forgot

Body memory. It's a powerful force and it knocked my socks off last weekend when I opened my arms to receive a hug. It's been nearly 41 years since I last felt Karen's embrace, but the body memory of her nurturing hug was so palpable, I could not hold back the tears.

A mere teen when she first came into our lives, Karen served as a babysitter, older sister, mother figure, and steady presence at a time when our family was teetering on the edge. It's safe to say she formed us with an equal measure of influence as our parents. I believe this now after hearing her stories, sharing a few of our own, and re-connecting with body memories that lay dormant for decades.

Separated in the late 60s following life-changing events, my sisters and I reunited with Karen December 3 at the home of Melinda and Art. Concerned about opening Pandora's box and uncertain of what we might find there, Karen, Geo, Melinda and I lifted the lid and looked around. Tears flowed. Realities were checked; suspicions confirmed. It was a messy place to explore, but we had one another, just as we had way back when, in that formative, impressionable time.

We remembered things that had long ago been buried; buried out of necessity when survival was at stake. Despite the pain of looking back on a time that was so very dangerous and destructive for us all, something quite remarkable emerged. We saw how it was then and how it is now. We surmised about how we survived. Apologies were offered; forgiveness explored and extended.

These words, spoken by my friend Rick as part of a eulogy, embody my sentiments of Karen, both then and now:
Gracious space is a space where the other person shines- a place where people are helped to know, deep in their person, that they are unique, important and loved. It is a place where they are free to tell their story without fear of judgment; a place where the most vulnerable feel safe to grieve, to cry, to rant and to laugh out loud.

My body remembered the unconditional love from that long ago time and I rejoice in now knowing it has always been there.


  1. Honey, this is a beautiful expression of this special reunion. Thank you for this....