“Familiar” – a documentary short by Anna Thorsen

One year ago, my daughter proposed a project. I am so happy I agreed. It was a powerful and transformative experience. Familiar is a short documentary about my Swedish mother, Karin Thorsen. Her story is told through the letters she wrote to her best friends from 1968-2001. This project was my daughter’s Grad Film for Langara’s…

60 years ago my mother became a mother. (Karin Kristina Orwald 1936 – 2008)

Decades are significant. 60 years ago my mother became a mother. 50 years ago we moved to Canada from Sweden. 50 years ago, my mother started to write letters home to Sweden.     30 years ago, my mother’s second grandchild was born. 10 years ago, I had my ear to my mother’s chest and listened as…

Mamma- a portrait.

“If You Forget Me” I want you to know one thing. You know how this is: if I look at the crystal moon, at the red branch of the slow autumn at my window, if I touch near the fire the impalpable ash or the wrinkled body of the log, everything carries me to you,…

The third letter home. November 18, 1968

Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe — Previous posts: Package of letters to Sweden A letter home. November 1, 1968 Dream. Letters. Thought and Memory. Writing exercise. The Second Letter. As these translations focus on the letters from my mother to her best…

The second letter. November 5, 1968.

Why when I close my eyes and think about myself at a young age do I find myself immediately at the age of 6?  What makes me go back to that little girl?  That time? These days I feel tears well up easily.  Not of sadness, but of fullness.  Today I walked home from the bus…

Dream. Letters. Thought and Memory.

I had a terrible dream last night. In the dream, I haven’t been home to visit my parents for four years.  In the dream, they are still living at the house on Braemar (the one we moved into in 1977, the one before they downsized in 2004).  In the dream, they are both as sick…

You are motherhood. You are the greatest mystery.

Only do not forget, if I wake up crying it’s only because in my dream I’m a lost child hunting through the leaves of the night for your hands… – Pablo Neruda Journal entry November 8, 2016: 8 years ago today, my little brother held my mother’s face and spoke sweetly, guiding my mother.  I laid my…

Slithering pancreatic serpent. #griefprocess

In November 2007, Dr. Ebrahim sat knee to knee with my mother.  I was on the other side of the little examination room.  I recall it was a sunny day.  I think it was.  Grouse Mountain shone in the background.  I think it did.  The room seemed turquoise.  Friendly.   We found a mass in…

You are motherhood. You are the greatest mystery. Karin 17/09/36-08/11/08

Only do not forget, if I wake up crying it’s only because in my dream I’m a lost child hunting through the leaves of the night for your hands… – Pablo Neruda 8 years ago today, my little brother held my mother’s face and spoke sweetly, guiding my mother.  I laid my right ear on her chest and…

We were drawn together on Saturday- and now I know why…

I love family.  And we have shared so much- all the life markers, the ups and downs of life and through it all there is that special glue that connects us. We had an impromptu get together at my place on Saturday- somehow ALL of us (niece, nephew, brothers, sister in laws, daughter, son, daughter…

“Always, remember, you are the best.” No, you were, Pappa. #toliveuntilwesaygoodbye

My greatest cheerleader was my Dad. 4 years ago today, his heart stopped beating, but his spirit lives on. His pep talks were the best. “Always, remember, you are the best.” No, you were, Pappa.   Our gift to you: Free PDF version of DRAWN TOGETHER, THE BOOK by Roar and Kat Thorsen! LINK

On Autumnal endings and beginnings in October

This is such a beautiful tender time of the year for me.  The autumn is both a time of loss and renewal.  My parents passed in the autumn, yet autumn is a time of new possibilities and fresh starts. Life/ death.  The extremes? Or two sides of the same coin or exactly the same?  For…

My mother’s tapestry…

Today would have been my mother’s 80th birthday.  It was joyous to celebrate her by celebrating my nephew’s 5th birthday (his official birthday is on the 19th) in my brother’s household filled with kids and mayhem, food and laughter. Our growing family certainly is my mother’s tapestry- her woven threads. We are the weavers of our…

SOME PORTRAITS OF GRIEF.

For me, it is impossible to quantify grief.  To qualify it.  To define it.  It comes as a surprise. It comes as a wave.  It comes suddenly.  Or it comes on slow.  It can feel like nostalgia, anger, sadness, gratitude, drowning.  It can be triggered.  It can be low grade.  It can be reassuring.  It can…

In place of death there was light.

I am preparing myself to draw my mother’s “death mask” from the photo my son took after she passed on November 8, 2008. I have been preparing for awhile. I know the process will be an important and necessary one for me personally.  I think about it often.  It’s not about needing to work on something…

The timeless/spaceless mid zone of creative process and chatting with the dead…

There is a beautiful part of my creative process that I cherish- the part that allows me to dialogue with my parents as if they are here in my kitchen, sharing coffee and offering advice and dialoguing on the cold case.  I had some magical moments the other day as I pulled out old binders…

Mamma.

  Karin Thorsen September 17, 1936 – November 8, 2008 Because you are only a seed, chestnut tree, autumn, earth, water, heights, silence prepared the germ, the floury density, the maternal eyelids that buried will again open toward the heights the simple majesty of foliage, the dark damp plan of new roots, the ancient but…

it should be a nightmare, but somehow, it isn’t. Instead, I am filled with curiosity…

I am a bit lost these days.  Spinning in place the last few weeks.   I know the spinning comes from diving into the past for a certain personal project.  The triggers pull the rug out from under me. And so I freeze, bite my nails, feel exhausted. Yet at peace… strangely.  For I am ready. I…

When grief is like a wave crashing on shore…

I attended an event last night at the Vancouver Public Library. I am so glad I went alone, for not only could I soak in the event itself (as I am passionate about this case), but I could really sit in my personal grief. This was the room I sat in with my Mom as…

The maternal eyelids that buried will again open toward the heights…

  Karin Thorsen September 17, 1936 – November 8, 2008 Because you are only a seed, chestnut tree, autumn, earth, water, heights, silence prepared the germ, the floury density, the maternal eyelids that buried will again open toward the heights the simple majesty of foliage, the dark damp plan of new roots, the ancient but…

Contemplating death, loss, hope, acceptance…

Release Leap of faith Acceptance Peace Honorary Karin Roar Life rough on the seas Sacrifice Mother father daughter love Death Release Hope Promise Defence Loss Rose Thorn Thorsen Memorial Cycle Allowance Honor New beginnings Immortal Bud Blossom Farewell Dedicated to my mother Karin September 17, 1936 – November 8, 2008 and my father Roar August…

Grief hits me when I least suspect it, with a solitary evening walk…

All of a sudden, all I want to do is organize mom’s closet, as she lies on the bed and chats with me, the parrot cuddling her hand, Tobey on the floor below, with Grey Gardens on in the background. Grief hits me when I least suspect it, with a solitary evening walk, letting the dog…

I could hear her heart stop.

I could hear her heart slow then stop. Then she flew. She flew straight down to San Francisco. She flew straight to her mother and aunts. She became everything.

A letter home. November 1, 1968

Recall the package of letters I received from my mom and dad’s friends in Sweden.  LINK Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Today I look at the first one… A letter from my mom to Rolf and Eivor dated November 1, 1968.  We moved…

Package of letters to Sweden by Mom and Dad since 1968, now in my hands

This morning I woke to my very old cat bravely climbing wobbly into my bed and cuddling.  I turned off the alarm clock to savour the moment and decided to change the way I approach the day.  I was going to dive right in to work.  But I decided instead to take it slow.  To…

The darkness is not always there. But the mask slips at times. #journal

I’ve been trying to write a post for days.  And those that know me know that it’s unusual for me to have to pause in the process.  But I have become stuck. There’s a pain in the chest that reminds me to pay attention, to try to figure it out.  My journal- usually filled with…

“Leaving behind in autumn’s advent…” My father’s last tax filings.

I filed my father’s taxes and submitted his will.  All is done.  All is wrapped up regarding both my mother and father’s paperwork.  How very strange. There was no probate as my father died with no savings, no life insurance, no assets… but I am left massively rich, with a full heart and peaceful soul.  Their…

The umbilical cord. Mother-daughter journal series. PART 3: Because you are only a seed

AS I MOVE FORWARD INTO NEW CHAPTERS IN MY LIFE, I HAVE DECIDED THAT IT IS TIME TO FOCUS FULLY ON ME. (Hello, me!)  IT IS FINALLY TIME TO PROCESS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER AND ALL THE DELICIOUS, SCARY, INTERESTING, HEART-WARMING, DEEEEEEEEP EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS, BLOCKAGES, PATTERNS ETC. THAT COME UP. FULLY READY.  EXCITED. —…

The umbilical cord. Mother-daughter journal series. PART 2: IDENTIFY THE FIRST MILESTONE

AS I MOVE FORWARD INTO NEW CHAPTERS IN MY LIFE, I HAVE DECIDED THAT IT IS TIME TO FOCUS FULLY ON ME. (Hello, me!)  IT IS FINALLY TIME TO PROCESS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER AND ALL THE DELICIOUS, SCARY, INTERESTING, HEART-WARMING, DEEEEEEEEP EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS, BLOCKAGES, PATTERNS ETC. THAT COME UP. FULLY READY.  EXCITED. THE…

The umbilical cord. Mother-daughter journal series. PART 1: Accepting the task.

AS I MOVE FORWARD INTO NEW CHAPTERS IN MY LIFE, I HAVE DECIDED THAT IT IS TIME TO FOCUS FULLY ON ME. (Hello, me!)  IT IS FINALLY TIME TO PROCESS MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOTHER AND ALL THE DELICIOUS, SCARY, INTERESTING, HEART-WARMING, DEEEEEEEEP EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENTS, BLOCKAGES, PATTERNS ETC. THAT COME UP. FULLY READY.  EXCITED. My…

With love and gratitude in my heart and soul, I say thank you to my parents…

With love and gratitude in my heart and soul, I say thank you to my parents and hello to our mutual dreams. Missing them feels similar to claustrophobia sometimes.  But the missing is infused with deep gratitude for the childhood and camaraderie they gave me. In 2012, my father knew, before he died, that we…

The darkening cathedral: processing the emotion of missing. #grief #saudade #journalexercise

I feel myself intertwined in the confusion of grief again.  It’s caught up to me and it wants to attach itself to my muddled brain as I try to sift and mindmap my next steps and make necessary changes to achieve emotional and financial balance in my life.  So as I am prone to do,…

Desperately seeking Karin… #journal #grief #arttherapy

As I work on the book with Dad, I am drenched in memories and find myself obsessively looking at photos of my mother.  She’s around 20 in the photos and just starting her adult life. I am loving it, but it’s also overwhelming.  Knowing the path that lies ahead of her… Last night I walked…