From Meghan Sheridan (sent to us on 10/28/2013)
|Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on October 30, 2013 at 10:35 PM||comments (311)|
A year ago, at nearly this very moment, I was sitting in my living room, cozy and warm while the wind and the rain drenched the night outside. I was not so much "curled up" on my leather armchair as I was awkwardly balancing two separate nursing pillows, a back rest, my boobs, a newborn, and a book. I had just started re-reading a page for the seventeenth time that day when there was a knock at the door. Shawn and I immediately locked eyes, alert, eyebrows raised in worry. No one ever comes over at 9 pm in a rainstorm to tell you good news. Before exhaling, I found the rational explanation-- we'd likely left our minivan doors open again in the rain, and a helpful neighbor was alerting us to our harebrained (yet not uncommon) oversight. Shawn went out on the porch, while I returned to my book--- Sister, by Rosamund Lupton---a story about a young free spirited artist named Tess who has died, and her sister's emotional quest to solve the mystery of her death. Shawn returned to the living room a few minutes later. "I have some bad news. Nancy's daughter Tess was in a car accident this morning. She died." I heard the words coming out of his mouth, but could not immediately weight them with their terrible, awful import. In my post-partum haze I momentarily thought that Shawn was somehow referring to the Tess bound up in the pages of my crime fiction book club selection. The coincidence felt confusing, then uncanny. An instant later, I snapped back to reality and felt the physical roar of the tragic news fill up my entire headspace.
We moved into the house next door to Tess in the summer of 2009. Our houses are so closely situated that a more gymnastic individual than myself would probably be able to shimmy herself up to the rooftop Spiderman-style by getting a toehold and fingerhold on our facing exterior brick walls. I often saw Tess on her front porch, and exchanged neighborly pleasantries with her on my many trips in and out of my front door. Our relationship was familiar, but not deep. We talked about the weather, and my kids, and mostly said a lot of "hi, how are you? fine thanks." Once I stepped out of the house late at night, just as a friend of Tess' was pulling in to her driveway to pick her up. Tess came out of the house looking fashionable and fabulous, and (charitably? naively?) asked me if I was "going out" too, despite the fact that I was wearing sweatpants, slippers and no bra. "Just headed out to the grocery store," I laughed. "Like all the cool kids do at 11 pm." She laughed, and got into the passenger seat of a car (presumably) not headed for Giant Eagle. The only time I ever saw her anywhere other than her porch was at the Ross Park Mall, a few months before she died while headed to her job there. I was playing with my kids at the "robot playground" in front of Old Navy when Tess and I spotted each other, and both did a double-take. "Hi neighbors!" she greeted us. We laughed about how odd it was to see each other out of context like this.
It has been a year since she died. And every day, when I walk out my door, I reflexively look over to my neighbor's porch. And every day, for a year, Tess has not been there. My youngest daughter, Nora, was only a few days old when Tess died. I have been almost ashamed to show her to Nancy--- my beautiful baby a living measuring stick against which Nancy might measure Time Without Tess. I miss seeing her on the porch. I carry on with my days of school drop off and toddler playdates, and grocery shopping, running in and out of the house a hundred times daily. Each time glancing over, always hoping.
memory and the ephemeral moments that you wish to contain inside of a mason jar for eternity
|Posted by Natalie Marrero on February 25, 2013 at 6:00 PM||comments (77)|
From Chelsea Domaleski
The philosophy Tess had for her life, or what I believe itto be is of truth, love and beauty. On my first day entering the 'new world' that is college, boys, more boys, pretending to do my homework, roaming around NYC and fun and all the things we won't tell our parents about started with was a truthful, loving and beautiful woman--Tess Senay. I really am having a hardtime writing about her, she was the vision of what I study in my dance studies as the delicacy of art as we know it and what my colleagues and I make and salvate over. It is fleeting at one moment you can devour it, breathe it, fill yourself with it, whatever it is. In front of your eyes something happens then within a blink it is over. At a completely new moment it doesn't exist anymore, it becomes lost within the daze of life, or the daze of New York City,or whatever daze you find yourself in. With the blink of an eye Tess entered my life walking into our closet size dorm room together and with that same blink she left for Alaska with a even quicker blink she came back to visit, to 'catchup' even though those moments seemed like a millisecond of the blink, being together was like we never separated, mostly sitting in silence allowing our cognitive function to feel each other in the space we shared. She always listened to me;she never talked much at times. She would always say nothing special was happening, I am just living. That she was. I admire her strength to stand up against the conservative evils that rule the world we live in. I admire her ability to see the beauty in every individual that walks this earth. I admire her for never forgetting to follow the path of HER OWN destiny even though at times the road may have been gray. Even as I am writing this, I am hoping this will bring her back to me to share one last conversation, to have one more hug, to make her dinner in our crowded apartment, to wake up and skip class and watch movies, to hear her laugh at all the obnoxious things to come out of my mouth or most important to tell her that I love her and appreciate her for everything she has given to this world so selflessly and what she has done for me without even realizing the affect of her undying love. I know too well this will not happen so every morning I put on the necklace she gave me the day she moved out of our apartment, in a blink she was gone. It reads,Truth/Love/Beauty. Everyday I step out into the city streets and approach or at least try to approach every circumstance with that philosophy. Because like theBuddhist we inhale all the negativity inside of this world, almost imagining asif it is black smoke and we exhale pure love and kindness to the world for those we may never come into contact with. So thank you Tess Senay for showing me the ONLY WAY TO LIVE.
Girl with the Block Print Love Tattoo
|Posted by TSRartandearthfund@comcast.net on February 4, 2013 at 10:55 AM||comments (3775)|
Tess had told me about the tattoo she was planning to get. At the time she was in Juneau, Alaska and her oral description of what she wanted sounded more thought out than most, but I was against it. "Just think about it more," I said. Inside I wanted to call her Uncle Toe who she was staying with, and tell him to go to the tattoo parlor and tell them if they tattooed that girl there would be hell to pay. Juneau is a very small town surrounded by mountains and water so this could have delayed things anyway. At least she couldn't get to another tattoo parlor very easily. The only thing was that Tess was an adult, and had lived her life in a way the demanded respect from even her tattoo hating mother. So I listened to her plan. Her tattoo was designed after a block print children's book called St. Francis Preaches to the Birds originally published by Janus Press. She had kept that book with her everywhere she went. This warmed my heart but still I said, "just wait."
When Tess arrived home and rolled out of the car that she had come across the country in with her friend Jim, it was a hot late summer night. I was so happy to see her, we had never been separated for so long before. We hugged, talked to Jim for a moment and carried her bags all the way into the house before I saw it. It was HUGE. The colors were bold. I just stared.
"Do you like it?" she said while laughing. "Let me explain it. See the black border is just like the book prints and the sun is for nature, which I love, and that's my body," pointing at the naked female body nestled under the sun, "and these are clouds for all my dreams. They didn't do the clouds very well, they look like mountains, oh well. Then the color blocks on the bottom are for all my emotions. What do you think these are?"
I looked at the three yellow flowers that sat in row just above the border of the rest of the tattoo. "What?"
"They're for the sisters, Anna, Mia and me," smiling down at her arm, "now no matter where I am I can look at this and remember what's important."