Today we had the privilege of having documentary film-makers come to our home. I met Linda through a mutual friend on Facebook, and being the encourager she is, she suggested making a little film about my recent art project. Of course I said yes, though I didn’t know what to expect. Then she introduced me to a photographer/director friend of hers who enjoys making films about artists. I had a nice long phone chat with him about the work and was thrilled to recognize that both of them, Linda and Kevin, understood immediately what I was trying to convey with my work. That is such a blessing for an artist…such a blessing for anyone, I’d imagine. Anyway, they came to the house today and filmed me making some paintings and talking about my intentions and my history. The kids got involved for a little bit too. It was very special…and I feel completely uplifted and understood. Here are some pictures of the day:
I recently stumbled across this old photo. Vernon was 39—around the time I first met him.
I’ve been missing Vernon a lot lately. It’s not like in the early days after he died when I seemed to step through strong currents in the air filled with sudden and overwhelming anxiety. Life is more peaceful in that way. I’ve managed to get on top of my mood swings for the most part (says I). Now thoughts of Vernon seem to drift down and about me like a plastic bag carried on a breeze. It’s not unpleasant, but I can’t say I don’t miss the intensity of the thoughts like I had in those first months. I don’t take time with them, I don’t hunt and try to pin them down. I am lucky enough to notice them at all with all the other details I’m trying to hold together at the moment—getting-on-with-life stuff.
It might be seeing an elderly couple walking together, it might be a Turner-like sky, watching Maki work out his old teenage soul on the strings of his guitar, the shape of Justine’s legs and feet. In an old notebook, which I had apparently written in after a dialysis session sometime last year, I found this: “There are times in Vernon’s recovery that I come home after spending the morning with him and recognize a sweetness in myself that I’d picked up just being with him. When Vernon isn’t totally confused or angry, he can be very loving to me. He can’t remember my name but most of the time, he knows I’m his wife.” It’s good to be reminded of that.
Earlier today, this old email came to the surface. (I must have been visiting America while he stayed in England.)
I’m just thankful that we have so much to remember him by. Remember to put things INTO the world when you are able. If nothing else, your loved ones will be grateful for it later.
“A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out.”— George Bernard Shaw
This came home from school. Justine’s teacher told me that before she dictated it to the room-mom who was helping that day, she said: “This is a piece of non-fiction.”
Justine and I made another podcast over on the Groundbreaking Girls website. I’m adding it here because she talks about death. It’s been a fascinating journey, developing our discussion of death over the months. She goes in and out of her magical thinking about her dad being around, lately asking but WHERE is he? I can say he’s in Heaven or in her heart, but its not always enough for her anymore…she wants the map. She gets very offended at school if someone says she doesn’t have a dad, it hurts her feelings deeply. However…she can also be quite understanding and accepting of her reality. She’s not afraid to talk about death and what happens with the bereaved. (I believe the grief group at school helped a lot with this…as well as keeping conversation open at home.) In this podcast, she lets us know that even if you are really sad when your loved one died, your heart won’t actually stop. You will survive.
Today marks the 6 month anniversary of Vernon’s death. 6 months of incorporating Grief into our lives. When I’ve mentioned this to friends in the past couple of days, people have most often said: “I can’t believe it’s only been 6 months! Time does fly.” But to me, it feels at least that long. I think time started feeling different for me when Vernon was hit. Everything started slowing down. Even his final death was slowed down. It’s only now that time is beginning to speed back up for me again, now that I’m busy for myself again. And that is daunting in itself, so I don’t think about it too much. I suppose its much like the development of a child. The early months are slowed with lack of sleep and tending to a needy baby. Then the child begins to sit up, crawl, and (if you are lucky) sleep through the night. Development hastens. And suddenly it’s growing so quickly. Next thing you know, you are missing the cuddly early days, only remembering the good-parts version. Humans are funny like that.
I didn’t do this to mark the date, but it just happens that I was able to hang another group of paintings at a hair salon this week. The significance of these paintings is huge to me. Many of them were painted in the summer of 2005, around the time I started talking to Vernon. I actually was getting to know him a little WHILE I was working on these. They were to be part of my first solo show. It was a very special period for me, working on so many pieces at a time. It was incredibly therapeutic, as for me I was able to work out some deep issues I had with female beauty. (Don’t ask me now what they were or how this series helped me, but I remember distinctly recognizing this in my 34 year old mind.)
As a wedding present, an artist friend posted the remaining artwork to us in England, where the series continued to ebb and morph over the years, selling the odd one here, painting a new one here. They moved back with me to California as well…where from time to time, I would sell or add another into the mix. But some of the originals are still with me. So to put them together again in a local exhibit has been a poignant experience. I even went back to the same craftsman friend that showed me how to make my own box frames in 2005. He quickly helped me put together six new frames this month. So many circles closing. Now that they are up on show again, its clear that this family of paintings based on Chinese girls of the 1930’s has bookended my entire relationship with Vernon.
I came across this in an email from 11/19/06—from Vernon:
paintings are, especially this grey/green one in the bedroom and the
one in the lounge of the girl holding the jar. I think you should do
more head paintings like that. Then we can start the website afresh
too and start to market. I have a plan 😉Hurry home coffeebean – we have a future to plan & live 🙂
Please send my love to everyone there.Love You XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
These are for sale, incidentally. And if you would like to see them in person, you can visit: Syren’s Hair Parlor, 217 Avenida Del Mar, San Clemente, CA 92672
Here is a little film from the other day, putting up the show. And after that, some pictures. 🙂