The last time I posted here it was as an announcement for a book I wrote called Finding Nine. At the time I told myself and others the book was not about the son I lost. And in fact it was inspired during a road trip with his daughter long before he was even ill. My loyal readers though seemed to know the truth while I continued to find pleasure as I continued to write surrounded by my own denial. The kind of denial that stays with a mother long after her child has died.
This month I’m once again writing in the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word count rough draft challenge. As I write it comes to me there is no way for me as a newbie writer to write anything that I do not know. So in goes an overheard conversation, a detail taken out of my own life, a stolen vignette from someone else’s, a piece or many pieces of my son’s story. His life, who he was, who I wanted him to be, the man he became. Little bits and pieces here and there making up for his absence in my real life. In fiction he is always by my side. I write in a character by his name during the rough draft, changed later on. But while I write it is him who comes to life on the page, or parts of him mixed in with someone of my imaginings.
He is beside me. This is what I forgot recently while I sat ensconced in the weight of misery. Putting off writing until I felt lighter and less alone. But he is here, right here with his voice whispering details in my ear. Thank you Jason, Write on!
Early this morning as I slowly emerged from a sleep filled with dreams of Jason I wept for my own loss and for the joy of seeing him if only in my dreams. Yesterday on Facebook, I posted pictures of a tree I had the city plant in memory of Jason and pictures of our home memorial vegetable garden. Along with the photos I wrote messages too. I’m sure he heard all the resulting chatter of people whose lives he touched as they “liked” the posts or wrote comments of their own. Then Jason himself reached out to me in my sleep; reminding me he is always with me. And I know his visit was his way of thanking me for keeping him alive by talking freely about him ever mindful of including him in our daily lives.
The art trading card below does reflect how I feel this day. In a dreamy state of reassurance and bliss I return to my field of dreams to rest and reflect on Jason’s life; a life well lived.
Yesterday I was so sure of my ability to stick with doing a card every day. Today though, when I sat down to paint, feeling totally void of enthusiasm and inspiration, my incentive seemed to have left me. Reminding myself to be in the moment, I stayed seated, resisting distraction and the temptation to give up and waited for inspiration to strike. When it did not, I went to my comfort zone of painting a field. A field like none other I have ever painted. Normally the fields I paint, sketch or doodle are pleasant places where there’s evidence of growth and development, they are hopeful fields, not so with today’s field. Today field is a barren place of little hope. The little bumble bee I pressed into the left centre of it all is a reminder that if we humans don’t protect them our precious bees will perish, and then so will we. Although I’m not impressed with today’s rendering I feel success in lurching across the lack of incentive hurdle and just getting it done.
The phrase “A new beginning” went through my mind when I made the commitment to follow through with painting a mini masterpiece a day. So far in my life I’ve had trouble finishing what I start or maybe I hadn’t found something compelling enough to pursue. When I say follow through, I’m talking about doing something for the love of it with no apparent reward, no money to lure me to the end line. Without a monetary reward dragging me along to culmination of a project my interest often lags until it just fizzles out completely. I’ve had to find something within that makes me want to be faithful each day to this project and now it’s only day 8 and already I’m feeling pretty sure of myself. Except for one thing…today’s subject. Having a minor success yesterday I wanted to find and feel the same sensation of glory. In the end my attempt is another pleasing piece. All the while I painted I could hear the voice of my son, Jason, saying “just go do something mum”. And finally I am; it is the knowledge of Jason’s pleasure from wherever he is, that help will me reach the finish line with only 22 days to go.
Several years ago we upgraded to a large and lovely draw leaf refectory table to accommodate a growing family that in the end never used it. The table then represented unfulfilled dreams and I grew to dislike it and the ugly reminders of my loss. Recently I found a small round copper table for sale, it is the duplicate of my mothers kitchen table where wonderful memories were made. I bought it on the spot to replace the large and lovely and ugly table. Now I sit to eat, read, paint, entertain, write my blog, my journal, drink tea and coffee, share a telephone call or stare out the window in wonder at the view and all of this, while making new memories. Totally inspired by my new table and feeling full of painterly confidence I decided, on this day, I could stretch out of my comfort zone. While looking out the window I saw right in front of me, on top of my new dining table, a drooping vase of tulips from my garden. I’d found my subject for the day. Another memory in the making at this new dining spot that has become so much more. The knowledge that I can paint from something real has surprised me! Good surprise though eh?
April 28, 2014
Recently someone tried to give me a book on grief suggesting it would help me with the sadness I feel each day as the result of the loss of my son. I was taken aback as it is not a book on grief I need. What I need are books on joy or how to find joy and happiness? The quote below by Lao Tzu was one I had seen many times before without really taking notice. Then for some reason it took hold of me when I read it again about two months ago. The message has been instrumental in helping me manage to live with grief through seeking joy and looking for the good… by living in the moment.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”
At the time I had just begun a journey of thirty days of art trading cards or what I like to call mini masterpieces. The art cards are hand decorated, or hand painted cards measuring 2.5″x3.5″, meant for artists to trade with each other. Hence the name “art trading cards”.
My art trading cards are not for trading, they are for 30 days of therapy. The 30 day idea was incepted after I had introduced a friend, with supposedly no artistic ability, to art cards.
We each did two on that first day and while we worked away we became relaxed and floated into almost a meditative state as we worked side by side. The art cards were a success on many levels. Soon I got an email saying she had enjoyed doing the cards so much she was intending to make a commitment to herself of one card a day for thirty days. I decided to join her.
As it happened the new month was March and that is when we started our cards. By chance we began our thirty days on a new moon, an auspicious time for starting a new trip or new venture. Today is also a new moon, a very lucky time for beginning new projects. Until the next new moon, I’ll be sharing the cards I painted, how the process went and what making these mini masterpieces has meant for me.