Before I had my kids, I spent some time briefly pursuing an Art career. Although that pursuit didn't last long, it left me with a love for the pencil and sketch pad. My love became drawing faces although I became obsessed with perfection. In time I found I was able to create a photographic likeness of any face but I couldn't portray the emotion I was trying to express. It seemed pointless as I figured I might as well just become a photographer and I put my pencil to rest. One summer, after losing Chloe I decided I just wanted to paint fairies. This led me to a class on whimsical art and was artistically freeing as it helped me let go of my need for perfection and just immerse myself in the whimsy of my subjects. Over the next months this new style helped me to touch the emotional darkness of living without Chloe and moving into my new way of moving through the world
The coming of October leaves me less able to breathe. Although the month of Chloe leaving is a past event, my body still feels it. I have found myself not only grieving her, but also, it is a season that I have always loved and could not get back. I decided to spend a few days after work at Chautauqua Park to see if I could start to feel its beauty again. I soon realized it wasn't going to happen as an onlooker. I couldn't just sit there and "think" about it. I had to somehow get inside it. I had to touch it. I began to touch the trees and the leaves. I took out my sketchpad from my backpack and drew every shape and vein of the leaves. I went home and began to paint. As I was working, I suddenly saw October taking me by the hand and leading me gently back into its beauty. I no longer had to try so hard to pursue it, but if I let it, it would come to me.
There is so much darkness that follows a deep loss. If there is any light at all around you it is difficult to see from your deep, dark hole. So how is it even possible for the light to return? I learned that you don't find the light, you make it. You start turning on lights because they're not going to to turn on by themselves. Each effort you make to move yourself forward results in more illumination. My first light happened when I went to the woods and felt the energy of the earth. It was small, but it was there. The next, when I began to practice yoga. Getting professional help from a intuitive therapist and equine therapist were bright lights that offered me hope. I didn't feel like I was even turning on lights in my life and it was a long time before I realized that the darkness was starting to fade a bit. Although I can't say it is necessarily linear either. You can experience a bright day only to find yourself in that dark pit again on another day. But it is necessary to honor both the dark and the light.
I often feel like I'm moving through life as a warrior, strategically choosing to stay alive. The battle was, at first, fierce and I thought it might be better to just succumb to death myself. But waking up every day, loading your weapons of determination and courage helped me to just step out and run head-on into whatever was in my path.
Fear-a vicious beast. It was two-pronged for me now. I felt fearless. I had faced the worst beast imaginable and I had survived. Nothing could scare me now, I was fearless. And that is truly how I feel at times. It is liberating, to escape its clutches. But there is another side of fear. It is that of knowing the reality of loss and terror. What else might I lose? Panic and anxiety started to pursue me and I gave them space in my life. I let them run wild and have their way with me until my body felt the tremors of anxiety and could not identify their real source. I had to turn and face that beast. I had to take charge no matter how scary life might become. Putting my hands on that animal, facing it and painting over its face brought me back into a place of calm control.
As I wrote the book, Losing My Breath, my editor asked me, "what is spirit?" I referred to Chloe and myself several times as being in our "spirit story" or my "spirit place." For me, spirit is beyond my physical space. It is a soft whisper and a knowing that is given to me through my intuition and heart. It comes from a tribe of guides, angels, ancestors, and a Divine presence which has been known to have a multitude of names from God to Great Spirit. It comes in quiet spaces and requires the uncluttering of the mind through breathing or meditating. It is the mind of the heart and soul which then brings an awareness of a message into the brain for understanding.
Some of the first images that emerged out of my "whimsical art" summer were those in which I could paint and feel that space in between the earthly and spiritual plane. The place where you meet where you meet your loved one. It requires work on both ends. As I sat in meditation I had to let myself go of this physical space, to let go of needing Chloe to be here- to raise my vibrational frequency to meet her. Chloe, as well had to lower her vibration that we might meet in that in-between place. These were some of the most simplistic images I have created but have had the most impact on my experience with my continued connection with Chloe.
As I became aware that Chloe was still in my life, I knew that she must be close to Hope and Dillon as well. I sat down and began to draw the girls in this "together" place. Their images emerged into a likeness of the two of them that surprised me. I felt an urging that Chloe had something she wanted to say to Hope and so I stopped. I got out a piece of paper and said, "Chloe, what do you want to tell Hope?" The words spilled out on the paper, I know a place that is neither here nor there. A place that only you and I can share....meet me there. It is that special place in the universe where two people can meet, regardless of the form they take or the distance that is between them.
The journey is yours. Listen to your heart-it holds powerful truths for you alone.