Love, Loss, and Painting
Why would a mother-to-be in her mid-thirties carrying her third child imagine anything but delivering a healthy baby?
With a typically developing seven-year-old daughter and a five-year-old son, I wasn’t imagining anything but a healthy baby. Yet this pregnancy felt quite different from the previous two. I couldn’t put my finger on the uniqueness. But I wrote a lot of poetry, created an abundance of paintings, and was especially tuned into nature. My spirit felt more elevated. And there was the ‘voice’ whispering, “This will be your spiritual teacher.”
Wondering about and questioning the deeper meaning of love filled my thoughts. What is love? Why would I love my biological children more than other children? What does real love look like? How do I love? Am I a loving person? I knew I was missing something important...
Born on his due date, Thomas weighed-in at 7.5 pounds. But he couldn’t breathe on his own; his diaphragm worked the opposite way ours does. The diagnosis called diaphragmatic eventration mystified the docs. A clear cut path to fixing his diaphragm was not evident. Thomas and I lived in the NICU (Neonatal ICU) for five weeks.
It was a true retreat from life. I didn’t clean, cook, do laundry, visit with people, and rarely spoke to anyone other than the medical team. My focus was holding Thomas and administering to his needs. I gazed at his small ailing body, contemplating this love I felt. Where did it come from? Was this feeling really love?
Just after twelve weeks of life Thomas passed. I was catapulted into another world; gifted with many mystical experiences. Simultaneously life felt both exceedingly vivid and extremely dull. My senses were particularly attuned. I could see through people without any judgement. Part of me wanted to crawl under a rock. But I couldn't. I had these two other children…
I wrote a book for them about Saint Nicholas’ first known act of generosity as an antidote to the commercialism of Christmas. I began illustrating it with collages from my watercolor paintings until my new neighbor suggested I take a painting workshop with her friend. I did and the course of my life altered in ways I could never have imagined.
I painted. And continued seeking Love. It is only in retrospect that I connect my search for Love and this form of painting. Painting cleared inner space for me. It helped release grief. It released me from my mind. It was a safe place to grow intuition. It opened me to an exploration and expression of Love.
Twenty-two years later, I continue to explore and express love through my paintings. Many are not pleasing to the eye. Some are. Regardless, I seek to let go and allow this force of Love to guide me. This means my thinking mind, my judging mind, and my small mind need to take a backseat to intuition, to fearlessness, and to expansiveness. It is continual practice without end.
Less than two years ago I had the idea to translate my Empower painting to a women’s scarf. Initially, I didn’t particularly feel drawn to it. But it grew on me. So I translated the painting to yoga leggings, then a dress, then a kimono, and now a whole line of women’s clothing.
Love inspires painting.
Painting nourishes intuition.
Intuition birthed to women's clothing.
Women's clothing embedded in Love.
And here I am, twenty-two years later, writing about my unexpected journey...
Thank you, dear sweet baby Thomas for entering into the world through me, and for opening the way to Love.