I just finished a set of custom brother and sister, and I have had to pick my heart off the floor many a time while creating them. Making these two dolls has definitely made me a little bit stronger.
It is true, as they say, that love never dies. It changes, as we do, it morphs and evolves, it goes deeper, or it lingers. But true love never dies. Especially the love for the little human beings you have carried inside you. No matter where they go, the paths they take in life, wether they write or call every Sunday, the love we feel for our children is boundless, endless, maddening, ever present. I can't write more than two words without stopping as my eyes swell with tears, so excuse me while I pause every now and then.
I knew she wanted me to create a boy doll like her son. I knew because she told me many times, she entered many offerings for custom dolls, and she left empty handed. I almost gave in quite a few of those times and offered to make her son into doll form because I knew how much she wanted it, and I knew how much she would treasure it. This has not been the first doll made in the likeness of her son, and it certainly won't be the last either. But a little twinkling voice inside me kept saying: "wait and your time will come, your time will come; you are not ready to work on such a doll…not yet." I listened to that little voice, because I have grown used to its wise words. I knew that making a little boy, like him, would tear my heart into tiny little pieces and I was going to have to pick myself off the floor with a spatula. I knew that I was going to battle blockage, anxiety, nerves, sadness and an irresistible need to heal her broken heart. I just knew it. And I wasn't wrong. But I wasn't anticipating, never could I have dreamed, was how much peace it would also bring me. And the little rainbow that would come once the sadness was over.
You see, her son passed away a few years ago. He got to be a young man, no longer a silly little tossled-headed boy. But the heart of this aching mother searches for him, in many places. The pain this loss must cause is something I can't even wrap my head around, just thinking about it makes my entire body hurt. However, time does heal but love does not forget. A doll not in his memory, but in his likeness. A doll not for him, but for her. Just one more piece of the puzzle of love she has been putting together. For peace, to heal, to remember.
I started working on them very slowly. It took me days to decide how to dress them…I changed my mind a few times. I went for outfits very much inspired by the ones in their photos. I tried, with all my heart, to imbue the dolls with a little bit of the essence of what their mother shared with me. I tried to not be too sad while I worked on one, and not too cheeky when I worked on the other. Little by little the heart started beating a little quieter, a little more peaceful. Little by little, all those thoughts and anxieties gave way to a rather beautiful morning. Where I accepted that these things happen, that they can happen. That they might happen. That it's impossible not to dwell and that the best you can do is be gentle with yourself. I wrote many journal entries while I worked on them, I wrote about siblings, and love, and family. About self-doubt as a creative, about fear of rejection. About loss and failure and irreparable damage, and about growth and life and new beginnings. If there is one thing I can say about them is this: they have given me an enormous gift and I will forever be grateful. For the chance to make them, to bring a little light into another human being's heart, for the thoughts they encouraged in me and the hard lessons I had to face. For I discovered that I am weak and nervous and loathe to feel insecure. But also because I was yet again confirmed in my belief that when I follow my heart the rest follows suit. The most important thing they reminded me is: play is a powerful thing.
I would lie if I made it sound like it was all this emotional rollercoaster. While a big part of their creation was very strongly charged, there were many moments in which I could not stop giggling at their little bums, talking to them, and playing with their flippin' hair. Tonja especially makes me laugh. There is something in her face that I just find very contagious, like a deep happiness flows within her. Kelly, the little rascal, melts me with that face of his. Some days he looked put off, and other days he was literally smiling hard at me. I will never really understand the magic of dolls, but boy I do love them. Funny how I never really was a "doll child", although I did have my special dolls, and now I spend almost all my creative time making them and telling their stories. And I just had to break out the curling iron and give Tonja the look of the times, with the little waves at the bottom.
The one thing that kept ringing in my head, was their Mom describing Tonja as her rainbow. And then there were the suspenders. Oh you should have seen how I walked into a few stores with a crazy face, trying to find the right size of ribbon to make them. I just HAD to make them. Because Tonja really is a rainbow, she might not know this but she is. Please don't tell her, it will be our inside joke (and please don't tell her how much it bugs me that I sewed the suspenders the other way around…with the orange/red to the inside instead of the outside…a dollmaker notices these things!). I gave them hats because it is getting chilly and I can't take dolls outside in good conscience without dressing them up properly. I always shiver when I look at them with their "empty" heads. Then they wanted to go and pick their own little pumpkin for Halloween and who am I to say no?.
Most of the time I get sad when I send my dolls to their homes, as I dont really like that part. But I cannot wait to send these two home, I feel they need to be over there, showering their own mother with their questions and tattle-tales and squabbles. She is ready with the curling iron, right? Right. Thank you Lisa, for giving me the chance to make them for you. Your patience knows no bounds, it only took us a few years but I think I was destined to make them once I had learned a few things so that they would look and feel the way they do. Good things happen to those who wait, and we both waited, and we were both rewarded.
~ May your heart finds the peace it seeks~
The Invitation. By Oriah Mountain Dreamer.
It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, 'Yes.'
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.