Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Here We Are

I painted this yesterday, during one of Amy's free live online classes.  She guided us through some interesting, new-to-met techniques that are really exciting to me.  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.

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 homeschool 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 part about grief are the wild swings of emotions.  I can feel perfectly normal, even happy, for days at a time -- only to suddenly crash, and crash hard.  It's frustrating.  I wish that I could just be sad consistently, because then I would know what to expect from 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 creation (painted on a sketchbook cover) -- 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.

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