Sunday, October 17, 2010

just different

Dear Ellen

I went through your clothes last week. Closets and drawers filled with things I haven't been able to deal with until now. I sorted them into piles and boxed them up, sending some to charity and some to a dark closet where I won't have the daily reminder they're no longer worn. It was hard to go through them and yes, the memories flooded in as expected for each t-shirt or funky pants or cute little dress I knew you had worn. I'd been putting this off, staring at them from time to time as I hunted through the closet for some old t-shirt of my own, never willing to move them or make any changes to this sort of shrine to what was. I had found such comfort in this for a long time, things kept just as you left them. Shoes left in the same spot on the floor for 10 months. I would simply pick them up to sweep under them, placing them back where I thought they belonged. Did I half expect you to come in and ask me where I'd put them? Maybe. I didn't dare move them, just in case.
But it was time. It became harder to walk into the closet and see them there, a constant reminder. I can't move forward if I'm holding on to the past and I know the only way I can continue this journey is to let go. It's not just you I was boxing up, but it was me as well. Clothes and shoes and pieces of me.

It's not so simple. It's not just sorting clothes. It's painful steps again, reminding me of those early months when I walked the world in a deep fog. I know I'm not escaping memories by packing them up, I know there will always be reminders of you, but I carry them differently now. I am different now. Not stronger, not better, not free of pain from the loss, just different.

I think you would understand.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

About Peace.

Dear Ellen
It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks.
I went to the show in Kansas City thinking it would just be an art show. As usual, I was wrong. I can't begin to count the number of people, both artists and collectors, who came into my booth to just talk with me, ask about you, express their sorrow, share a story about you and simply share themselves with me. It was so kind and so reminded me how many lives you've touched without having ever met them.
A woman came into the booth on Sunday afternoon who had also been there on Friday evening. She looked intently at the work and then came up to me and asked,"how do you find this peace?" I was struck by the intensity and sadness in her eyes as she began to weep openly. We spoke for several minutes as the world revolved around us. I wasn't able to answer her question, I think because it was hers to answer, but I was made aware of the power of the human connection in that conversation. The words we exchanged remained with me as I finished the day and began my drive home.

There is an artist I've known for several years who has been living her life with cancer. She is an amazing artist, a beautiful and thoughtful, wise and kind woman. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years, but found her on Sunday morning at the show. We exchanged a warm hug and she lifted the hat over her head to reveal her cancer had returned, her peach fuzz hair the latest indignity. We spoke at length about your journey and now hers. She expressed how touched she was by you and by how I had continued to honor you and keep your spirit alive. "I just want to be remembered in that way". I was struck by both the words and the deep pain they sourced from. We hugged again as I left her, knowing full well I may never see her again.

I've thought so much about both of these women and our conversations. The connection was real, raw to the bone, honest and haunting. A rare and beautiful thing. So how do we find peace? How do we wish to be remembered?

My work reflects something which I couldn't recognize in myself. I never thought I would feel joy again when I lost you. I am learning, with time, with the empty loss, I have the capacity to feel joy again. My work is not so much about loss now as it is about what I've gained from the loss. In this way you are remembered and cherished. In this way I share your story with other women who are seeking themselves. The peace you found in your journey is carried forward. You will not be forgotten. In this way I will find my own peace.

I miss you