Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Life In a Museum

“your life / It’s a painting hanging in a dark museum” Guillaume Apollinaire

After death knocked me out, I woke in a dark room. There was one painting hanging on the wall, lit by a spotlight. It was a portrait of my love who died, and it was all I could see.

In a corner of my eye, I noticed a crazy kaleidoscope of images flashing with feelings and jumbled thoughts. But when I tried to look directly at it, it moved to another corner.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw other paintings around me. Some were large canvases with splatters of paint like the shredded emotions of Jackson Pollock. A few were tiny, just two inches wide, in golden frames. Some paintings reminded me of Hopper’s melancholy, the bent reality of Dali, the cubist facial migration of Picasso, or the anguish of Orozco.

Wandering into other galleries, I saw the broad strokes of my life on the walls, each gallery a different decade, with experiences that changed the direction of my life. The paintings were like grand landscapes and city scenes by Breughel that looked beautiful from a distance, but when I moved close, I noticed the details of everyday life the filled them —celebrations and dancing going on in the foreground, someone sad sitting on a stoop, people having arguments, and other deaths.

There were scenes from Yosemite where the awe of nature helped center my life. A few paintings had heavy shadows like Rembrandt, still full of mystery, even years later.

The side galleries wound around the center one, with openings on each side that led into the other galleries like spokes in a wheel circling around an unchanging core that has held me together over the years.

Eventually I reached the gallery under construction labeled “After.” Inside I saw preliminary sketches taped to the walls with Post-It notes that said “Dissolution,” “Persistence of Memory,” “Saudade,” “Unbridled Joy,” and “Tango.”

I create paintings to explore my journey through grief. The paintings arrive here when I move on to the next stage in life. When I stop creating, I will also come here and take my place. The Memory Museum.

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