I’ve only read about 1/3 of the book so my comments and reflections may change, though that seems unlikely. For anyone interested in Frida Kaho, her life and work, this is a book that should be read. I can think of no better way to attempt to understand a person than through their uncensored, unabridged letters, journals, notes, etc. I was immediately devastated by the loneliness and aloneness permeating her letters. The earliest note is dated November 30, 1922 and the last is written on March 13, 1954. Almost from the beginning her letters seem to be a cry for recognition, a yearning, a terrible need to be acknowledged, accepted, touched in some way. Her letters invariably end with heartfelt expressions of love, and pleas for response. Here, as a teenager, the deep, unrequited love she felt for Alejandro Arias that led to so much disappointment and despair sends shudders down my spine. If only I had had a girlfriend as passionately devoted to me at seventeen!
And as if polio wasn’t enough the accident, at eighteen, changed her life dramatically. I don’t think she ever recovered physically or, more importantly, emotionally.
This is a tragic yet poignant story: yet one overflowing with inspiration for the flagging spirit. How she persevered through such travails is beyond the comprehension of those of us who have lead relatively uneventful lives, lives without major trauma, physical or otherwise. Many among us do suffer, perhaps more than Frida, yet somehow manage to build useful, meaningful and productive lives. The human spirit is more resilient than we are willing to give it credit for. That Frida never (rarely) lashed out at God, the tram driver, practicing doctors, unfaithful friends, life itself, or anyone or anything else during her troubling life impresses me. Most of us are quick to blame something or someone else for our troubles; it’s easier that way.
It’s hard for me to imagine spending week after week on my back encased in plaster, unable to move much more than a finger or an eyelash while friends danced and traveled and sipped coffee at a neighborhood cafe. And then with what I can only refer to as a sort of stoic resolve enduring the numerous operations, hoping each time for improvement, only to find the procedures had had little success. And there is the emotional harm inflicted by her philandering husband Diego Rivera - more than many of us could or would accept.
That she endured her life until the age of 47 is in itself worth honoring, and then to have produced so many remarkable paintings. . .
Frida wrote in her diary, a few days before her death, which may have been a suicide:
"Espero alegre la salida – y espero no volver jamás."
“I wait for a happy exit – and I hope never to return.”