Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A sad day

Ryan Hammett: 10/31/89-4/28/08
Today is the second anniversary of the death of my son Ryan. He was 18 when he took his own life. After much turmoil, he is at last at peace. I miss him dearly and hope you will permit me this occasion to mourn his passing again. Two years later, this poem by W.H. Auden still cuts to the heart of my grief.

Stop all the clocks,
cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking
with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos
and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin,
let the mourners come.
Let the aeroplanes circle
moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky
the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks
of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen
wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South,
my East and West,
My working week
and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight,
my talk, my song;
I thought that love
would last for ever:
I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now:
put out every one;
Pack up the moon
and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean
and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever
come to any good.

-W.H. Auden (1907-1973)

In my grief, I made several pieces of art to express the loss and keep me connected to Ryan. The one above is called "The Ties That Bind." It is a mixed media piece using bits of Ryan's clothing and things I found when cleaning out his bedroom. He often asked me to sew patches on his jeans and jackets, so it seemed appropos that I would take to that task once again for his sake.

This corner of my bedroom, the one I have never shown you, is an altar to Ryan and to everyone else whom I have lost. There are bits of my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my grandfather assembled here. If you are a feng shui practitioner, this might mean something to you; it is in the family tradition sector of the ba-gua.

The hand-quilted piece is called "Seeping" and was made to illustrate the way awareness of death drips slowly into one's consciuosness. It was made with a pair of Ryan's pants appliqued on silk and burlap. The dried flowers are from his memorial service.

This is the most recent piece I made using an old box and found objects along with some photos, acrylic paint, wire, and silk organza. I have not yet named it.

Art making has been a wonderful outlet for processing feelings. This blog was created as a way of distracting myself and surrounding myself with beauty, to balance out the darkness that comes at times. And so all of you who visit and leave comments have become a part of my healing. I am so grateful for your presence in my life. Thank you for being with me on my journey. Peace and love to you all today.

Until next tme...


  1. Hi Anne, I'm so sorry for your loss. I am happy that you have your blog, and it helps with the darkness in your life.When i look at your home it makes me smile. I can see all the love you put into it.I wish you the best today...Kathy

  2. Dear Anne ~ What a journey that you are on. I can't even imagine what it is like to walk in your shoes. How brave to get up each morning and look for beauty, to LIVE for both you and for Ryan. I am typing through tears. A very hard day for you, today and always....BUT, you are healing in the most positive way, by writing, creating and surrounding yourself with a peaceful haven. I met you only recently, but please know what an inspiration you have been and that I am keeping you in my prayers.
    xx P&H

  3. Dearest Anne,

    This is so beautiful...your son's beauty reflected in all that you have created in memory of him. The poem is like balm for the wounded soul. I especially am in awe of the art piece you have made using remnants of his clothing and trinkets. My teenagers have very similar taste/style as your son. And he is so very handsome. I will carry you in my heart this day dear friend and whisper prayers of comfort. ((hug)) ox~ Kerrie

  4. Dear Anne,
    I cannot begin to know what you have been through and how you have coped with such a terrible tradegy and how your heart must ache. I think that your corner devoted to Ryan and the other members of your family that are no longer with you, is a beautiful tribute. I think that it's so good to let out your feelings, as it helps.
    Take care, Anne and I will be thinking of you today. Lots of love. XXXX

  5. Dear Anne,

    My heart is with you as I read this.


  6. Dear Friends,

    Thank you all so very much for your words of support and thoughts/prayers. I spent much of the day immersed in garden chores like mowing and weeding. Tomorrow I plan to divide some hostas. Being busy has helped so much today. The quieter moments have been rough, but that is to be expected. Your comments brought tears to my eyes. I was so moved by the support here. It really is astounding.

    A few of Ryan's friends came by. We hung out with them tonight, and I made pizza for everyone. Luckily, I am off work until Monday and plan to spend the time taking care of myself, working in the garden, making some changes inside.

    Thank you for being a part of my process. Love to you all.

  7. Dear Anne, I'm sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the pain, but how nice gesture as a Mom to Create this beautiful space in his Memory. Receive my warm wishes.
    With love to you,
    Li :-)

  8. Oh Anne, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I admire your strength and your decision to find productive outlets for your grief. All the best to you on this difficult day.

  9. Dear Anne-
    I am so sorry for your tragic loss. I can't imagine what you have gone through, the pain you have felt to loose a child. Please know I am praying for you, my thoughts are with you and I wish you the best! I'm glad you spent time in your garden, I wish you only wonderful memories of him!

  10. an absolutely beautiful post and lovely art pieces to honor your lost ones. thanks so much for opening yourself up like this. I am sure it was not easy....

    it appears that, with time, you have discovered several ways to express your love and grief in ways that are healing...

  11. Anne. I was catching up on blogs today and missed this a few weeks ago. First of all I am so sorry for your tragic loss of your boy Ryan. I admire your ways to grieve. In the pain you have created beauty. That poem "Stop the clocks" is so hauntingly beautifully. I only came across it 2 years ago when my boss died tragically. My friend lost her son 2 years ago to suicide also. The pain is so great and raw I feel like I can touch it on her. My blessings to you and your family. It is wonderful to see your art and photography and garden and know that these things comfort you and heal you.



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