Friday, May 7, 2010

The Red Thread

I've said before that I'm comforted by the sheer enormity of the universe, and my unimaginably insignificant role in it. I don't see those chance happenings that others do as ways that the universe tried to make my day, or tell me something; for me, the randomness of life is so comforting.

Alas, even a cynic can wonder about fate from time to time.

I had an hour in the car yesterday while at work, by myself, out in one of the many stretches of rural America that lacks an FM signal. I scrolled through my NPR reader and landed on the Diane Rehm show, and randomly chose an hour segment titled "Ann Hood, The Red Thread".

Having never heard of either Ann Hood or her red thread, imagine my surprise to hear that she is an author who writes from the perspective of a bereaved parent. She lost her 5 year old daughter Grace to an invasive streptococcal infection abruptly, and used knitting as her therapy to help her navigate her grief.

Weird, huh?

The interview was excellent, you can find it here. She wrote a semi-autobiographical novel 5 years after her daughter died called The Knitting Circle. I hope to read it, though part of me thinks I'm not quite ready yet.

The novel for which she was being interviewed today, The Red Thread, refers to the ancient Chinese belief which states that when a child is born invisible red threads connect that child's soul to all those people - present and in the future - who will play a part in that child's life. As each birthday passes, those threads shorten and tighten, bringing closer those people who are fated to be together. After Grace died, Hood and her husband decided to adopt a baby girl from China. The book is a fictional account of five families who go to adopt, as well as the account of the chinese mothers who made that horrible decision to give their infants away. The concept of the red thread obviously runs deep in the adoption community. It's a lovely thought.

Don't worry, readers, I'm not going soft. I'm still the cold-hearted scientific non-theist that I've always been. But, that was weird, and the interview very touching.

As an aside, I'm having an unusually light for weeks. Henry is, though it pains me to write this, far from my mind. At times I feel like his story happened to another family. The intrusive thoughts that were disrupting me constantly a few weeks ago are gone. And, as all grieving parents do, I'm starting to feel guilty about all of this. I can enjoy a few of the good days in a row, and then I start to wonder what's wrong with me. I keep thinking I should have learned by now that it will be back. I'm trying to continue to enjoy the days I have.


SOCKS said...

I SO-O-O enjoy your writing.

Is there a way to write and knit at the same time?

Henry's Red Thread shortened and tightened during his illness. As his family watched him fade away he seemed to feel the comfort of everyone's love and support. His circle was broad, his impact was noticeable.

This is a beautiful story - thank you.

rlbates said...

Don't have any great words to add, just wanted you to know I'm still here to do whatever I can for you.

pelican said...

There's a singer, Lucy Kaplansky, who has an album called The Red Thread. It's gorgeous, check her out.

A Doc 2 Be said...

Embrace the good days with vigor, just as Henry enjoyed his good days with vigor as well :)

warm thoughts to you and your family!

Snickollet said...

I just put both of those books on reserve at the library. You're becoming my main source of reading material--thank you.

I'm also in a part of the grief cycle where John is far from my mind. I am enjoying my life as it is, and I feel mostly happy and content. And yes, a little guilty about that.

Enjoy the good days. I'll do the same.

Cathy said...

I am always thinking about you and your family.

You, "cold?" Not hardly. And if you were to go "soft" no one would be mad.

Milo said...

I think that beautiful soul knew more than anything how much you loved him before spreading his wings and flying away... He is trying to give you a gift by setting you free. Maybe that is the way he is telling you that he loves you too! Happy mothers day!
love from Milo

Amanda said...

I too adopted from China and am familiar with the Red Thread story. During the process of going through my divorce I heard from my old college boyfriend. I had always known that he would always love me, and I him, to some extent. He found me when I finally joined FaceBook and we are looking forward to seeing each other in person vs. chatting online. We still love each other and are now starting to fall in love again. I told him the Red Thread story and how like the story says - the string connecting us has had to bend, but it has not broken. People cycle through our lives and we need to appreciate the connectiveness we have to others and know that when life or death separate us from that person that the thread remains.

uberimma said...

I don't tend to think much of coincidences, either--I just picked up the "Small Miracles" book and couldn't help but think (cynically, I guess) that for every "miraculous" connection, there had been a hundred missed ones.

Still. Albert Einstein, when he died, believed in God. So just because it's all physics doesn't mean it's all random.