Since Esmé can’t tell us what she wants to dress up as for Halloween–and since she has rather stringent requirements for her costumes so that her sensory and physical needs can be met–every year I try to think about a person to dress Ez up as, someone that I feel fits Esmé’s personality and that somehow characterizes what we are experiencing with her. This means that I wind up dressing her up as exceptionally strong, courageous, and determined women from history…because the level of strength, courage, and determination I see in my daughter is what makes her who she is. So, in years previous, she’s been Amelia Earhart to celebrate her budding mobility in her gait trainer and Dr. Dian Fossey to celebrate her increasing connection to the world around her (and her love of the gorilla in Goodnight Gorilla).
This year has been one in which Esmé seems to be coming into her own. She is establishing ways to communicate her wants and desires. She is forming friendships. She is doing more–and more in her own way. I keep finding myself talking about her “blooming” as if she was a beautiful flower we’ve been waiting to see open up and show itself to the world.
That image of Esmé blooming has made me think, on a number of occasions, of the gorgeous flowers the artist Frida Kahlo wore so very often in her hair.
Since having Ez, Frida Kahlo (who has been my favorite artist for much of my life), has been on my mind quite a bit. Frida Kahlo, like Esmé, had a body that caused her a great deal of difficulty. She endured multiple surgeries, months bound to her bed, terrible pain, and a great number of other challenges that stemmed from a serious bus accident she was in when she was a young woman. She painted through and about her pain…using an adapted easel for the periods she was bed-bound. And she became one of the best known female painters, remembered for her emotional imagery and her striking self-portraits, which often included her beautiful hair-pieces and emphasized her facial hair.
To me Frida Kahlo has always been a symbol of how tremendous strength and determination can exist within a body that appears to be so very frail, of how pain and hardship can, when tended, blossom into something fierce and beautiful–something that shows everyone a different way of looking at the world.
And so, with that, I give you: Esmé as Frida Kahlo.