Today, I am excited that I have my artist reception at the gallery. I want it to go well. I want people to see what I painted and to tell me about it. I want to get better. I want to sell stuff so I can keep painting. I want affirmation. And I want it to be fun. A bit of joy…
I’m thinking about Hannah and David. I’m thinking about 38 other people. I’m thinking about what food to bring and if I should set it up outside. I don’t know what to wear. And cold white wine? I don’t know anything about wine. Ice? Do we need ice?
But I wouldn’t even be painting if it weren’t for grief. Painting is my way of coping. It’s grieving. It’s healing. It’s the white light and the blue butterflies in the painting. God is there. Hidden. But there. Ethan died. I picked up a brush. I started with a portrait of him… and now I’m doing tiny paintings of birds and bubbles.
You see, I was happy once. I had the imperfect life that I wanted. I didn’t even know it at the time. I was just living it. And that was suddenly torn away. And as Buffy the Vampire Slayer once said, “I was warm. And I was loved … I was torn out of there … Everything here is hard and bright and violent. This is Hell. Just getting through the next moment, and the one after that. Knowing what I’ve lost.” Painting gets me through the next moment… and in that way, it is awesome.
And see that? Up here in the corner… see the colors? That isn’t just blue. It’s healing and it is a different form of happiness.
I got an abatement notice from the county. Clean up the mess outside. Yeah, yeah… I was going to do that anyway. Now I just have an added incentive.
The other thing is how unfair it is to the surviving son… when you lose one, the other gets dumped on. Justin is stuck with me. A sappier, quieter version of myself. And I want to help. I’d stick my hand in fire for him and if there was something I could tell him to make him believe in himself the way I believe in him. Whatever it takes… whatever he needs, I’m there. I could take him aside and tell him that I love him. I could just spoil him or indulge him or whatever. I don’t know. I do know that this isn’t fair… life… and that he got a bit of a raw deal.
I know what I lost. It wasn’t just my son… but more. It was that whole life… that whole bit of happiness that he was a part of. Even the memories are filtered through a new lens. And finding a new life in this… it isn’t easy, but it certainly isn’t Hell anymore. It is moment by moment, making a choice to be purposeful in finding good. It is softening the painting with butterflies and choosing a blue that makes sense of the way I feel.
That painting made a woman in my critique group cry. She was trying to say something about it… and lost it. I guess that was the point of painting it… to communicate an emotion. She got it.
I am looking forward to tonight. Today is going to go well. I guess that’s good.