“Thank you for finding these letters,” Vernon said with some emotion today as I reread some of the bigger ones to him today (this is our third day in a row reading the letters and he seemed to know what to expect a little more each day.) I want to record this because in my mind, I feel like I ams seeing a real leap in his spirit over the past few days, and it comes from his own words read back to himself. I marvel each day because there seems to be a strengthened awakening. In mine and Vernon’s hearts, this makes so much sense, because we are the kind of people who speak from the heart. Why shouldn’t Vernon be moved to memory when his own most-alive-heart-put-into-words speaks life to his older distant-and-damaged self?
Among plans for the future, Maki, and me, one of the messages that kept coming up in those letters was the interest in painting again. I was painting (barely for a living) at the time we met and he was very taken by that fact. He kept calling me “painter girl” or something like that. I think he must have romanticized it too, as it would never have been enough to support a family on…I hadn’t arrived or anything, but I loved that he held my work in such high esteem. For an artist, that’s enough to make one feel loved, right there! Anyway, I’m picking up on the messages now too, messages in these old letters, that remind me he had a reoccurring daydream of painting again and that it would be part of our lives together. He went to grad school right after we married and threw himself into typeface design, while I dabbled and then realized I had no ready audience for my work in the UK and started working other jobs that I found interesting and helped pay the bills. Painting drifted more to the background for both of us. When we moved to America, he brought it up again. “I’m ready to paint again. I think your parents working in their studio offer a great opportunity and inspiration.” But then of course, a money-making job had to happen here too and all that got pushed to the sidelines again. Right now, the only paintings we have of Vernon’s time with us as a family are on the living room wall (2) and in Maki’s bedroom (3).
Today after we sat in the June sunshine, rereading his letters (at his own request) he felt up to painting for a bit. This time he used his right hand, which usually stumps his movement— but today, it flourished. I’m guessing this is the fruit of the past few weeks of restorative therapy on the omnicycle …they do insist he uses both hands, or at least tries to. He’s also using his left hand to wash the brush and load the paint.
It’s relaxing to watch him, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure it relaxes him too. Not that he is always in the mood for this. Today we sat for an hour reading old letters before he was in the mood. And that was after sending his RNA away because he didn’t want to go to the gym (I made him promise to be cool about it when asked to go again this afternoon. Hope he remembered.)
Here is the boat. Synnove, who had known him first in art school in Bergen when he was painting full time, has told me that he always painted the background of his pieces. He seems to continue to do that in his recent work. So interesting…and also kind of brilliant, no?
It’s not just romance and painting that has come up in these letters. Maki, who was quite young at the time they were written, keeps coming up in the handwriting. It’s quite remarkable, actually, that I have actual words to share with Maki from Vernon’s heart over a decade ago. I knew reading them touched Vernon (and me) but I wasn’t sure if it was the right time to tell Maki. But he hasn’t missed much in this journey, so I pulled him aside last night to read whatever I could find about him in this pile of old letters. He hasn’t told me yet what he thought of them, perhaps he never will. But he listened intently. Today, I told Vernon, as I re read those parts to him, that I had passed them on to Maki as well. Vernon’s eyes filled up with his dry-tears and he thanked me.
So basically…what has been happening for the past while, and I would say increasingly after finding the letters, is that Vernon resonates most from his heart. He is interested only in deep and important parts of humanity. He wants to talk about love, family, connections, even God. He gets bored talking about the weather or what he considers inane subjects, details he can’t relate to. He connects, he relaxes, when he is talked to from the heart. I marvel at this…but it seems like this has been the portal of communication to his mind. Through the heart, through the soul. I’m so thankful that in Vernon’s injury, this has not been taken. In fact, in some ways, he seems more purely connected to truth than anyone I know.
In some ways, I said. But still, there are those. 🙂
“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” —Francis of Assisi