Sunday, April 18, 2010

Home Again

Dear Ellen

The gallery has been doing well. I am surprised by this although I should have known you would be smiling down on it all, guiding people in to buy art. I didn't have many expectations when I opened it, I only felt it would be a place to work and a source of a little extra income. It has become so much more than that. Working on art again has been a comfort and saving grace, but it's the encounters with people who come through the gallery that have truly inspired me. I didn't expect this at all. The people owning other shops along the street wave and wish good morning on their way to work. Strangers come through the gallery during the day, people from all over the country or just from the next block and they share a story and a little bit of themselves. Our friends stop by the "clubhouse" for a hug, or "therapy" or just a brief but wonderful conversation. My day is constantly interupted with such beautiful moments, just when I need them the most. The messages brought to me are gifts, small and perfect gifts. They heal my wounds and remind me to stay grateful, to remain most human and vulnerable. It's been a blessing to have this place to work, to learn these lessons.

Thank you, Ellen, for bringing me home again. You knew what you were doing.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Dear Ellen

I'm trying to remember a time, a moment, a day we shared together before our lives turned upside down. I want to remember one and hold on to it. As hard as it is to remember the final weeks, it's almost more painful to remember a time when we were happy and free. That's when the full enormity of loss hit's me, when I know happiness was taken.
I want to remember you on your finest day. With shorts and flip-flops and a wide brimmed hat on a bicycle bound for glory. With a huge smile and a swing in your step, dancing in the Jazz tent to John Boutte'. I want to ache with the thought of you sitting on the beach, feeling the sun on your face. Memories wash over me and the sorrow is deep, but this is what I want. I don't want to keep crying over the horrors of cancer and what it robbed us of. I want to cry over the beautiful memories and what they gave me. That's what I want to remember. That's what I want to feel.

You on your finest day.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter morning

Dear Ellen

It's Easter Sunday. You passed away three months ago today. I can't help but mark the day and reflect on the changes. It feels like I lost you yesterday and yet it's been forever since I've heard you say good morning.

Is it getting easier? In some ways, yes. I seem to function, seem to deal with my feelings, seem to even feel good at times. The studio and gallery have been my salvation, work has helped me move forward. My art keeps me centered, the people coming through the gallery have engaged me in thoughtful, wonderful ways. It feels good, it feels right, it feels like hope. When I think of the choices I've made in these past three months, the decision to stay in New Orleans was my choice to continue living. Maybe it hasn't been pretty at times, but I am finding a way to survive.

On the other hand, it's so very hard to live without you. When I think about you, the stabbing feelings of loss are still raw. I try to think about happy memories, but the haunting thoughts of your final days still leave me shaken and incredibly sad. I miss you. I just miss you and everything about our life together. I get angry at the world because I'm still here without you.

I ask why a lot. Why. Why. Why.

There's no clear answer. So I find comfort in my art, in the friends and strangers who come through the door of the gallery, in the cat who curls up next to me in the evenings to watch stupid TV. This is how I am building a life without you. Slowly, quietly, my small new world takes shape. A day marked by the anniversary of your death, another day of finding my way through it. Tentatively hopeful, yes, that's how I feel this morning.

Happy Easter, my love.