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


Pam said...

Beautiful tribute, beautifully written. I think you have found a special balance, doing all that can be done at this point - remembering Ellen for the world to know through your work. It's so perfect that this is an outlet for you, as well as a tribute to her, as well as an opening to others to have a meaningful conversation they need to have. You are in a unique position to do this, and you do it well. Take care, my friend. Pam

danielle said...

When I read your letters to Ellen, your words always touch me deeply...

Much love,


Anonymous said...

Your writing sometimes take my breathe. My eyes savor the gentle ride and I can't get to the next words fast enough. I picture you in that moment at the show being so fully present to others and to your own loss. It is a gift to other souls who are on their journey. It says... "I see you" and "I'm on the road with you" How validating... What a gift of compassion that Ellen has left you with my friend. So poignant... Your heart status has been changed by this women we all loved and it's a beautiful thing to watch you continue to grow...

Heather said...

Dear Aunty Cathy, As always, your message to Ellen is beautifully written and brings tears to my eyes. I'm comforted knowing that joy, even in its smallest way, is part of your life again. The journey you have been on has been so heartbreaking to witness, even just in words, but the change in tone over your last few posts offers such hope for the future. I hope we will see you in Winter Park in the spring. I love you! Heather