I painted this yesterday, on a sketchbook cover, during one of Amy’s free classes. She guided us through some new-to-me techniques I found very exciting. 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. God has saved me from that, at least.
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 homeschooling 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 thing about grief (so far, anyway) are the wild swings of emotions. I can feel perfectly normal, even happy, for days at a time — only to crash suddenly, and crash hard. It’s frustrating, and scary. I wish that I could just be sad consistently, because then I would know what to expect from each day of 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 painting— 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.