Earllier this week, I saw this photo of Glennon Doyle Melton on Facebook.
The power of the imagery was almost overwhelming for me. I remain in awe of Glennon’s determination to live authentically. While I do not necessarily agree with all that she has said, says, or believes, I honor her as a fellow Love Warrior and know that she is doing exactly what she needs to do in this life.
A day later, I saw this photo of my son and his girlfriend.
Again, no words are necessary to describe the love, commitment, and desire these two young lovebirds hold for one another.
For the past 14 months, since Dad’s death, I have found my emotions and everything else in my life unlanguageable. I have tried to write of my grief, sometimes successfully, but mostly, lacking in depth and breadth of what is happening in my heart. I have been silent in many ways because I didn’t know how to explain my experience.
In the past year of combing through thousands and thousands of photos, I have found a few treasures. I see the look Dad gave Mom and the love becomes tangible for me again.
I see that same love in a few photos of Jeff and me as well. Again, words cannot describe the heart. Only the image can.
Without cause or prior notice, a few days before my birthday, I started to dream in images. Vivid images. I mentioned to Jeff that I thought I wanted to paint. No, I needed to paint. I had never painted before and was actually jealous of the artists around me who could create such magical visions.
Jeff bought me an easel and other supplies and encouraged me to move forward. And I did. For the past two months, I have been painting almost daily, almost in a manic mode. I cannot produce these visions quickly enough at times. I have been told I have some talent for which I am grateful. Though, honestly, I am doing this for me and for no one else.
Painting is the only way I have found to describe my heart and my soul in these grief filled days. The painting seems to mend the grief a bit, easing the sting of daily emptiness. When I am painting, I think of nothing else but what is in front of me. And during that time, I feel complete joy.
Some visions that I create, I paint over. I do not need them once I have produced them. And some, I am holding onto because they offer me peace, contentment, and often, an alternative perspective I had not noticed until it came onto the canvas. Naming my pieces is almost impossible because I believe the person who ends up with it should give it its name. The recipient is the one who knows what the painting is for him/her.
For now, I am painting instead of writing (except for this particular piece) until my heart tells me to do otherwise. Like Glennon Doyle Melton, I have learned a part of what my life needs to be in order to live authentically. I cannot tell you what that means. I can only show you. And if you understand this, you know I do not need to tell you or anyone else.
Jeff’s father’s death, and then Dad’s death less than 15 months later left me more devastated than I imagined I could be at age 53. Six weeks later, another very close friend of Jeff’s and mine in the Lyme community died too early. It was the one two three punch that I wasn’t sure wouldn’t knock me down permanently.
But the love you each surrounded me with picked me up. Your notes, texts, gifts, meals, hugs . . . they have held me up these past 14 months.
I’m going to be ok. I am ok. I understand more clearly. I know what I need to know. And for now, I know I need to paint to express what it is I know and understand and feel.