Like making paper

Sam making paper

I walked in to find her curled in a ball on her bed. Her heart racing, hands trembling. She was exhausted simply from having a shower.

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They warned us that the transplant was only a partial solution. That if it worked it would cure her of Leukaemia but they said that other things can go wrong and they gave us a book that listed all the possibilities. Secondary cancers, bone problems, liver problems, infertility, kidney problems, cataracts, avascular necrosis and the list went on.

I look at her tiny body and I feel so helpless. Even the drugs designed to stabilize her condition are messing with her thoughts, messing with her head and her emotions are torn pieces of paper thrown like confetti all over the floor.

“Take me out for a while, before you leave? Perhaps to the vintage store? Maybe there will be a typewriter that I can buy since my hands don’t let me write anymore.”

“What was I thinking going out,” I thought suddenly remembering that I was supposed to change the dose if the pulse rate hadn’t lowered through the week. I couldn’t remember exactly what to do. So I searched for the page where the doctor had written it down and I got buried in the paper work. I was awash in the panic and words of failure mocked my lack of responsibility.

I’d been so tired the day that we met with the professor from Endocrine. I’d been teaching all day because it was Kindy Orientation for 2010 and I wanted to be prepared for next year. I want to go back to work if she is well.

I had made the appointment for 4.30pm so that we could make our way across the city from north to east at the end of the day. The waiting room made me weary and when it was our turn I had hoped they would have answers, solutions, and a plan.

Instead the professor showed us our seats and he leaned on the wall standing while the registrar took notes at her desk. He stared at his shoes for a while as if maybe the words he was looking for were there on his toes.

Then he finally raised his head, “We are only doctors. We don’t know everything. We don’t understand why Sam’s thyroid has responded the way it has after the transplant. We’ve been discussing her case and we’ve contacted the transplant units overseas. There have been a few cases recorded when after a transplant, thyroiditis has developed but we have no studies, no facts to help us to determine the course of treatment.”

“Sometimes we just have to tell the patient, we don’t know what to do. We cannot cure you. The best we can do is to try to help manage it from here and hope that it just goes away. It is possible. A thyroid problem can just go away but a post transplant thyroid problem is not something we see, so we can’t make any promises. We are just doctors doing our best.”

Life is like paper
Fragile and torn
Damp, little circles sagging from
The drops of our tears

Life is like paper
Prescriptions, blood forms,
Charts and discharge summaries
It’s hard to keep track of them all

Life is like paper
Sometimes we feel like we are just waiting
Stacked and ready for the recycle bin
Or curled at the edges from the heat of the sun
We feel like maybe we missed our chance to shine
Instead we are musty and yellowed and aged.

Sam loves paper. When she was tiny we used to go out for lemonade and cappuccino. That was the 90s, so sometimes there was a doily on my saucer. Sam loved to decorate the borders with the tiny crayolas I had tucked in my bag.

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Her dainty little hands always loved to colour. They loved to cut out. We would make people all in a row. Friends holding hands. This is the indulgence of the first-born. When Emma came along her people were quirky characters, while Sam’s were all neat and precise in matching clothes. I can still hear their laughter. I can still hear their tears when they cut on the folds and all the little people fell disconnected to the floor.

Life is like paper
Pastel coloured
Bunting, streamers and serviettes
The gelato memory of childhood
When giggles turned to laughter
And nonsense words.

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She returned from an outing alone the other day. She had driven her car, she had been to the café, and of course she had been to the art shop. She had bought paper. We admired each sheet as she laid them out in her moleskin journal showing me how she was going to combine all her thoughts, her words, the images, the doilies, the buttons and thread. We love creating, collecting, gathering textures, enjoying the interplay of pictures and words.

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When they were children the kitchen had a cupboard we devoted to craft. Before I went to bed at night I would arrange a fresh activity on the little table with a bowl of dry cereal, to buy me some more time in bed. She would eventually wake me to show me her masterpiece and we’d stick it on the fridge.

As Emma got older she joined Sam at the table and Emma would draw for Sam’s approval not mine. I can hear them in my memory, down the hallway. “That’s great Emma, That’s a beautiful drawing” and then when I woke she would show me Emma’s work announcing how clever her sister was, with a smile that said “isn’t she cute but she can’t really draw can she?”

My memories are a pile, stacked high.

At the beginning of this year I felt the book of Sam’s life was ready to be bound, the chronicles of her childhood complete. She’d be turning 21 in March. She had met a boy who made her smile. She was about to be an adult and write a book of her own. I felt a sense of completion and I too was ready to move on, satisfied that Sam’s season of childhood was complete.

I feel like Finn in “How to Make an American Quilt.” I too have left the manuscript by the window on a beautiful day. The storm came unexpectedly and the pages went everywhere; all over the vineyards, over the fence, down the dirt road and into the paddling pool. As I’ve tried to gather Sam’s pages I’ve found myself wading through memories, reflecting on the treasures of her life.

Life is like paper
A journal full of memories
The heartache, the agony
Intermingled with joy.

In one of my memories I stumbled upon the time when we used to make paper. We recycled pages that no longer were needed, some that were coloured and the petals of roses. We tore them and blended them with water in the food processor. We made mulch. We gently placed the mulch in a wire A5 frame and we submerged them in a deep box of water. Then we would wait for them to dry a little and peel them out of the frame to dry some more.

Submerging the frame

The pages we made were not perfect. They were mottled, uneven, with frayed edges. To us they were beautiful. Sometimes we embossed them with little stencils, or we pressed them with an inky heart shaped stamp. We bound the pages with string turning them into gifts and we sent them in parcels of brown paper to Sydney. I am sure my sister has kept a few just for old times sake.

Life is like paper
Recycled, fragmented, detailed
With imperfection formed
In the depth of the water

Our lives are in the hands of our maker. He is taking all the torn pieces, he’s stirring things up, he’s submerging our lives. He will bring us out. He will peel us off the frame that determines our form. While we wait we will continue to trust Him.

We are being formed like a blank page, ready for Him to engrave or emboss His indelible mark. One day on our pages, a magnificent story will be written. I think He’s already writing the draft.

Psalm 139:15-17
My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery].
Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.
How precious and weighty also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

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18 Comments

Filed under Life

18 responses to “Like making paper

  1. Wendy Gilbert

    Divine Clare & the Cutest pictures. I loved that you mentioned the “How to Make an American Quilt”. The book will be finished, bound & beautiful, eventually; with some pages missing, but new ones in their place. Love Wendy

    • Clare Froggatt

      Wendy, I know…I told you I loved that film. I love that you got that vision for me a while ago.( Did you post that on my blog? Or Facebook? I do love how detailed God is to give you a picture from a film you did not know whether I would have seen or not and it turned it to be one of my favourites. It’s extra special to me because my mum has made quilts for as long as can remember. She still attends a group who make quilts for the children’s hospital and the like. We must never underestimate the power of our stories; the ones we tell as we gather with other women; the ones we write as we sit lonely in waiting rooms. As we write we create pictures that make great sense of life’s journeys. I think everyone should hire “How to Make an American Quilt.” We all carry a little heartache but God embroiders beautiful details over our lives and in the end we stand back in awe of how wonderful it has become.

  2. You have no idea how much I wish there was something tangible and immediate we could do to take this all go away. To see with our earthly eyes the progression of the happy ending.

    It goes without saying that the road gets bumpy for all of us at some and numerous points. It is even fathomable that we acknowledge our injustices to God sharpening his pencils ready for precision and brilliance. But there also comes a point where you have to throw your hands up in the air and wonder what good, what lesson could possibly come out of this drawn-out suffering.

    I guess that’s the poignant moment. While I am lost at that point you are gripping His hand and walking the narrow road. Your attitude and your outlook makes no logical sense. You have brought heaven to earth.

    I can’t wait for the moment where a collective “I’m an idiot” revelation is received in regards to all of this.

    The moment where the lens zooms out from a mess of scribbles that we pretend to make sense of to become something exquisite. Succinct.

    I can’t wait to be reading the last sentence of this chapter.

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thankyou Jess, I too, wait for that moment when the lens finds perfect clarity. Its hard while we live in the ‘know in part’ zone. How thankful I am that I know that God knows what He is doing. If I fix my mind on that fact I don’t have to worry. I guess this is the wonder and joy of finding out whether or not we really trust in God. Its an opportunity to hold on to the fact that He has already framed the big picture. I am just waiting for the blurry polaroid in my hand to shift from solid green to intricate pieces of a photo.

      Congratulations on starting your blog. Your words are beautiful and challenging. You DO have a gift. Keep writing.

  3. Jane Grover

    Beautiful words Clare, capitivating stories & memories……..
    Love the poems about paper and life experience intermingled and the cute photos…….who would have known as you lived those days that many years later you would relate these things to your readers at this season of your life…only God knows what is ahead….
    OUR trust is firmly in Him that what He has planned will only bring Life and intimacy with Him, let that picture come into focus at His proper time xx ps will hire and watch “How to make American Quilt” this week….can’t say I’ve ever been into quilting so a new day dawns………possibly a new habit formed 🙂

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thankyou Jane, I really look forward to the time when this experience is merely a memory. I look forward to seeing the good and the great things that come from it. Surely ALL things work together for good. Even the thing which is not good WILL work out for good, Bring it on, Lord I am ready…yet patiently I wait til that time comes. I think you will love American Quilt. It is not realy about quilting. Well, it is and it isn’t. Its a great parable about life and the beautiful pictures that form from the pieces. X

  4. Beautiful Clare. You are the most amazing mum. Sam, Emma & Jack are soooo lucky to have you. Hey, tell Sam I have a typewriter she can have if she hasn’t found one yet. I just need to remember where I hid it :S But it’s hers as soon as I find it, if she wants it.

    So much love,
    Katie xx

    PS: B told me last last night that he wished Mrs Froggatt could teach year 2 next year. He also asked me why Mr. Froggatt isn’t a teacher, because if he was he would buy you BOTH chocolate so you wouldn’t have to practice your sharing. 🙂 xxx

  5. Penny Dalton

    Clare your beautiful words stir emotions, transport me, capture distant memories…

    I loved the pictures of Sam making paper, she looks so focused, concentrating on the task at hand.
    What an incredible gift you have given her in her childhood years, directing & guiding her so that she could discover who she was meant to be.
    So much more to be written…
    love penn xx

  6. Dearest clare,I’ve always loved your writings from “The school bell” to “the corner shop “( off limits to Meriden girls!!!!!!) but these writings over the last months have been heart breaking and at the same time have taken us into the presence of God.Your walk with God and Sam’s emma’s Jack’s and Reid’s dueing this time is a wonderful witness to all who know you.I believe many lives are being changed and many will come to know Jesus as Lord because of the Faithand witness of your family I love you all with all my heart mam xxxxxx

    • Clare Froggatt

      Thanks Mum, yes I have been writing privately for years. I still have all those poems I wrote in High School when I was nominated Poet Laureate. ha ha. It was fun being published in the school year book. Thankyou for being the greatest fan of my writing. Love you mum.

  7. joy horan

    Dearest Clare,
    My Name is Joy Horan and we have not yet met, although through the wonder of the internet I decided to read your posts so feel like I instantly know you.
    I cried and cried…
    Your photographs are stunning and I just loved the crayons and clouds, says so much!!!
    Deeply… my heart is with you
    love Joy x

    • Clare Froggatt

      Hello Joy, How lovely to find a new friend through my blog. I look forward to reading yours. The photos of the little girl making paper are Sam. The rest I found on a very cool and inspiring website called http://www.weheartit.com I love photography but haven’t the skills to take images such as these. A picture really says a thousand words. I have lots of words too. Thankyou for commenting. I look forward to meeting you. Love Clare x

  8. Kelly O'Regan

    Thank you (again) for sharing your life so continuously. On an almost unrelated note, you have inspired me to make paper this weekend. Its something that I’ve always wanted to do, but never got around to. So thanks for the inspiration too.
    Kelly xx

  9. Sandy Foster

    And then God answered: ” Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letter so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming – it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” (Habakkuk 2… The Message)

    Keep writing Clare!

    Such beautiful words as always and precious photos and memories shared – thank you xxx I can’t wait for your book and for Sam’s too. You are an inspiration and I agree with your mum too – many people’s lives are being changed and many will come to know Jesus as Lord as a result of your steadfast faith and the powerful witness of your family. Amazing! xxx

  10. celeste gaspar

    Hi Clare, I haven’t revisited your blog for a while as it provokes so much emotion, instead I have asked others about Sam’s progress. Having caught up now I realize it was my loss. This might give you a laugh, someone accused me of “over parenting” the other day, what is that? didn’t know there was such a thing.! Made me laugh anyway. Keep strong.
    XOXO Celeste and Renee

    • Clare Froggatt

      Celeste, it was such a joy to see you and gorgeous Renee at school. I understand you taking a break from my blog. Sometimes I too wonder if I can stand the intensity of this journey. I am amazed at the goodness and grace of God who is carrying us through. How can one ever “over parent”? What an honour it is to be a mum. We must give it everything we have. Our children are so very precious. Ultimately thought I am learning that my kids belong to God first and when I have no energy, He carries them and me. What a relief that is! Much love Clare

  11. Meredith Harvey

    Dearest Clare,
    Your writing continues to inspire, i don’t have the same gift of writing as you, but reading your blog makes me stop and think more about my life and how much we need to treasure those around us.
    You have also helped me in my walk with Jesus and from the bottom of my heart, i thank you.
    I will continue to stand strong in faith for Sam and you and your family.
    Love Mez xx

    • Clare Froggatt

      Hey Mez, I am so grateful for you standing with me and praying for us. I am looking forward to working together again next year. I do hope our classes are buddy classes. Your comments bless me every time you write. Thankyou for taking the time to read and respond. I always doubt myself before I post every blog and it is a great joy when people respond. I think it is incredible that my writing is helping others. That makes it all worth it. Sort of!

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