Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Here We Are

I painted this yesterday, on a sketchbook cover, during one of Amy’s free classes.  She guided us through some new-to-me techniques I found very exciting.  I enjoyed the new learning.

But what I enjoyed even more was how good it felt to make this.  Although I’ve painted and drawn one time each since Eve died, those attempts didn’t really feel like much.  I think that perhaps I was still in shock over my daughter’s death, because I did both within a week or two of losing her — a time when I wasn’t able to feel much at all, I can now see.

Yesterday, however, was a different story.  I was not focused on what the painting looked like, but on the act of painting itself.  With each brush stroke I felt like I was pushing my pain into the substrate, crying out my grief with paint instead of tears.

And it felt right to make a really sad girl — and the resulting girl certainly does look horribly sad.  In some ways, I feel that this is a painting of me.

But at the same time, it’s not.  Because the girl I painted looks lost in despair, in a kind of living death.  That is not how I feel.  God has saved me from that, at least.

I do, however, feel lost in pain and absence at times.  Confused about the future, since I had thought I was going to be a homeschooling mama for the next twenty years.  Afraid at what awful thing might be around the corner — because in our four short years of marriage, the Best Husband Ever and I have gone through hell in the forms of an eating disorder, depression, and near-divorce.

The hardest thing about grief (so far, anyway) are the wild swings of emotions.  I can feel perfectly normal, even happy, for days at a time — only to crash suddenly, and crash hard.  It’s frustrating, and scary.  I wish that I could just be sad consistently, because then I would know what to expect from each day of this journey.  And while the crashes are painful and terrifying, the periods of normalcy are awful in their own way, because how can I feel so fine when my daughter is dead?  When her body, instead of continuing to dance and live and grow within me toward her January birth, is a pile of plastic-housed ash on my shelf?  Sometimes I worry that I’m going insane.

But I don’t think that my experiences are unusual.  Terrible, perhaps, but not singular.  I am not alone.  That is why I scribbled the words here we are” on the side of this painting— because I am not the only one here in this place of pain and confusion.  Although I would never wish this experience on anyone, I am so glad that I am alone.  Here we are, hearts amputated, all together.


  1. Beth, your painting captures so much. I love that you can relate to your painting but have a brighter hope shining that this girl doesn't.

    Grief is so unpredictable friend, hang in there. Sending lots of love, and prayers as January approaches.


  2. It has been two and a half years since Charlotte died. I know it seems like the day Eve was due will never get here and then be gone. After it does, it feels like the guilt of thinking of ever having another child will never go away. The loss of her will never be bearable. I still think of Charlotte alot. However, that sorrow and loss, knowing that we will meet again someday but not soon enough isn't so hard to bear. It never goes away but it I don't mind carrying it anymore. You are an amazing artist and I wish I could have had this picture to portray my feelings like you do. I always felt like I had to tell everyone I was ok. I had to go into work everyday and ignore all the hurt and sorrow (I was teaching highschool freshman at the time). What an amazing thing to be able to work through all your feelings this way.

  3. Thanks, Fran. Such a good prayer, because right now I'm not looking forward to 2012 at all. :(

  4. Thanks, Callie. You said, "It never goes away but it I don't mind carrying it anymore." I love that.

  5. I love this painting. she doesn't look despairing to me. just really sad. I don't think our postmodern culture has made any visual room for that. so no wonder it is cathartic for you. it's like her beautiful face gives me permission to feel sorrow. thanks for putting "we". there's a lot of us who have been supressing what needs to be expressed for real healing to take place. I think art and music and movies and books are places where our triggers are pulled and we feel safe letting it all out. I'm so glad you're painting.
    the style of this reminds me of German expressionism, but has more warmth, kind of like Diego RIvera. I love the brushstrokes/dappled colors in the skin. thanks for sharing this with us, Beth!

  6. Thanks, Jennifer! You're right when you said, " and music and movies and books are places where our triggers are pulled and we feel safe letting it all out." I totally agree!

  7. This is a wonderful painting Beth it has so much emotion in it and im sure u will always treasure it as a feeling of love and loss expressed for Eve.... u are in my prayers ...

    hugz bev

  8. Thank you so much, Bev.


"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King