I was the final note in the quartet of children that made up the siblings in our family. Growing up, I often felt like the cymbals. Clashing and clanging at odd moments while everyone else knew their part off by heart, chiming in appropriately, hitting their notes, playing in harmony.
Today, only my sisters and I remain of the original band. My daughters and two nieces now carry the tune. While the notes between the sister-pairs are strong, the notes between the cousins are far apart and barely audible. Since my brother and sister-in-law’s tragic deaths over twenty years ago, my nieces have had little contact with any of us. The drama and turmoil of those days leading up to and following their parents’ deaths were incomprehensible for an 18 and 19-year-old. As my brother and mother had an argument shortly before the events unfolded, and my mother was inconsolable in her grief, they chose to distance themselves from all of us. The distance was never closed.
Losing her son was a heavy loss for my mother. Losing her connection with her first-born granddaughters was a loss that weighed heavily on her heart for the rest of her life.
Yesterday, to find balance and calm in a day that while significant in terms of the calendar, was still just another day, I headed into my studio to create.
I have always believed it is the gift of Love that brings us into this world and love that carries us out. All we can leave behind is that which carries us in, through and out of life – Love.
We, the ones left behind on this earthly plane have a choice, to pick up the remains of pain and turmoil or follow the path of love.
I am grateful for my practice of art journaling. For its grace and reflective space and healing arts. It holds me steady on the path of love.
In this page, the six roses represent our original family — My mother, father, brother, two sisters and me.
The five birds flying together represent my sisters and me and my two daughters. The two little birds just coming out of the rose on the left are my two grandchildren.
In the middle, flying separately in a misty sky, are my nieces and grand-nephew. The flowers at the bottom represent La Grande Famille growing wild and free and loving all around the world.
No matter if we spend time together or how far apart our stories, we are always connected through this circle of love that is our family.
As I finished the page, the words came to me, “In the garden of your life let love grow wild and free.”
I also created another page yesterday (I use another journal alongside me as I paint to wipe off excess paints).
As I wiped off paint and held myself lovingly within the harmony and the discordant notes of family, I knew this page was about not fitting into a box, but living in the messy of life. Something that spoke to all my emotions on this day.
I wasn’t sure what I was feeling/expressing until I finished and then sat down to write in my journal what creating this page brought up for me. And that’s when I understood…
Grief is Messy…
Grief Is Messy by Louise Gallagher Grief is messy. It follows no well-known path travelling to the beat of its own drum and pushing through boundaries you desperately put in place to keep its presence at bay. Grief is stealthy It dresses up in familiar clothing masquerading as your best friend while its steals your identity encroaching on the spaces of your heart you want desperately to avoid visiting. There is no taming grief. There is only its heavy cloak of companionship wearing you down until one day you find yourself arriving at that place where moments spent wrapped in grief’s company die away as softly as the sweet melody of the voice of the one who is gone fades into memory.