I personally feel a special kinship to the Chapungu Sculpture park in Loveland, Colorado.  I used to go here and walk the park, enjoying the sculptures, reading the plaques, and feeling a connection with something that took family equally as priority, as I felt inside.
This park is the first permanent location of Chapungu sculpture in the United States and has at least 80 pieces throughout the beautiful space.  Each piece has a name that gives a deep meaning and explanation of the way of life in Zimbabwe.  The betrothal, first kicks, grandson protecting grandfather, welcome home, traditional healer, leap frog, the prophet, coming home to die….they all tell an amazing story.
Walking through this park is not an option now.  I just cannot do it.  I went to this place and considered it my sanctuary away from stress.  I went there before I lost my son.
Family is still a priority in my life, but surviving has taken the front line.  My connection to this beautiful place is somewhat broken and needing a new definition.  My family life is different, I am different.  My life has been turned upside down while something constantly shakes me to wake up.
It is not a dream, it is a living nightmare.  I am awake and walking through a different sort of park, mostly empty and dimly lit.  I have days that I feel nothing.  Numb.  And then others that scatter in….ambitious, energetic, going to tackle the world.  I pace back and forth on the path in this park…the path to nowhere, asking “why” and grasping for reason and answers.
I do not play the blame game everyday, but it still creeps in and messes with any progress.  It is hard for a parent to not blame themselves when they lose a child to suicide.  What could I have done different?  What sign did I miss? What am I doing wrong?
A world away, in a small country, in a small community….a mother also sits, grieving the loss of a son.  She cannot move and does not want to eat.  A piece of her has died with her child.
Three blocks over, in the same country, in the same community, a mother sits, grieving the loss of her son.  She cannot feel, cannot breathe.  She wants to lay beside her child and be put to rest with him.
In my house, one room away, less than 25 steps…a father sits, not knowing how to comfort his wife.  Both losing a son, both lost on a path.  He holds her, looking straight ahead, squeezing her tight.  She falls apart in his arms and finally allows herself to grieve.
I have lost the kinship to some family, some of the community, and some of life.  My connection is cut and I am forever changed.  I am rebuilding, everyday.  I am trying to figure out where things fit, where I fit, and how exactly you are supposed to live the rest of your life with a broken heart.  So, here continues the reinvention, rebirth, and reconnection of Leslie Beery to the world.
My Sanctuary
70 miles away from my everyday life, I have to drive
Maybe this is why it is so special to me,
I open my car door and look along the vastness of the 26 acres,
I am overcome with a sense of home.
My sanctuary is inside this land and intertwined among the paths and
Each of the 80 stone figures along the walk, representing something so important to life.
Calm and contemplation
This is a place to go and think
Sit and write
Feel joy
Feel sadness.
Chapungu is where I am,
Experiencing the power and deeply expressive art of the African perspective
Of family.
Windows into life for these people
Great in numbers
Entire communities considered family
Supportive and guiding
There is so much love in this park
Culture and support
Respect for each other
My sanctuary
From a world that is so different.