Painting in a Tidal Wave: Finding Enjoyment After Loss

Grief.
Contrary to what I thought prior, it’s not an emotion. It’s a condition. An illness. 

 I am ‘fine’ for several minutes strung together at a time. I can even carry on a light conversation without losing “it”. Once again, I can do this for several minutes. 

Then the wave washes over me.

And that’s when I lose the “it” I mentioned above. 

Yesterday, my best friend of over 20 years, Lisa,  took me out for the first time since Scott passed away. It was a painting event during the day, and the proceeds went to the American Cancer Society. We even signed a petition while we were there. It was to get a law passed, making it more affordable for everyone to receive the pill form of chemo therapy. 

I was nervous about going, but I, like my kids, have “safe” people who are tender in my situation. Lee* is one of these people. 


When we were there, I met some of her coworkers. I shook their hands and said “hi”. I was working hard to hide my shattered heart. Mimicking my old ways, I wondered if the act was working or if my face betrayed me. No real way of knowing, I felt it was best to get lost in the art project at hand. 

Painting pallets. 

The highlight: We were able to beat the crap out of our pallets. They had hammers, mallets, and chains, and safety glasses. It was very official stuff, and I was into it.

So into it, that at one point I realized I was the last person, whaling on my pallet. To say it was a release would be an understatement.

I proceeded to paint my piece of wood, appreciating its knots, experimenting with different colors. Once we were finished with that, the art teacher told us to wait. It needed to dry.

We sat for a few minutes. Waited. We laughed at the spelling error on my stencil.


 I waited some more. We all waited. 

Then it came.

Your husband is dead.

It, just a thought, a whisper, a reminder from nowhere, washed over me like an ocean filled with the weight of 60 years of memories. Lost. 

It struck me so concretely, I spoke aloud, “What the hell?!” 

I rushed to the bathroom, locked the door, and stood in the dark and sobbed.

 What was happening? I don’t know. I really don’t. Here I was in the dark at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on a Sunday. 

Then came something else – a different thought, whisper, reminder…

It’s going to be ok.

I cried more, refusing to accept this.

It’s going to be ok.

It persisted. I was silenced.

I turned the lights on, wiped my tears, and turned them back off. I stood in the dark, holding the handle of the door. You can do this. 

I remembered to breath, then I opened the door.

As for my project, here it is: