Create Healing With Forgiveness

Late last year I decided to make another piece of art to put into “the world’s largest art competition” Artprize. I started to work on it just after the first of the year. This project was going to be much larger than the one I entered in 2015. That painting was one that depicted my boys and I holding a deceased Becca. I tried to show what it was like to have to say goodbye. It was much smaller than this year’s but conveyed much of the anguish and pain I felt in having one of my children die. Having to accept that my daughter is no longer here. It was a very difficult piece to work on, and in truth, took many years to finish.

This year’s entry “Touching Heaven” shows how far I have come in my healing process. It’s huge in size standing 10ft tall by 5ft across! Three panels layered with spackle, wire, papier mache, acrylic paint, stained glass, glitter, and feathers. The angel, I created, is my Becca in heaven. Look how far I’ve come!

When my boys move somewhere new I always ask them to send me a picture of their rooms. It helps me to envision them in their surroundings. Which makes me feel calmer about them being far away. A little trick I play with myself. With this piece of art I am doing the same with my Becca. In the three years, between the projects, I have accepted more fully her absence. I am ready to visualize her somewhere else. Away from me. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t like it, but I know it is the reality of things.

Today is the official start of the competition. My piece has been hanging since Sunday and I have gotten much positive feedback from those who know me. In the next few weeks, I’ll be standing by my angel talking with people, and I hope to get a positive response.

For those who don’t know, I have been looking for the drunk driver that killed my daughter, the man who ended her life here and sent her to heaven. This driver ENDED MY CHILD’S LIFE and I have a need to look into his eyes. Being born, and dying, are the two greatest occurrences in one’s life. I was there for one and, tragically, he was there for the other.

I awoke this morning to a message from my cousin, Tammy. She’d sent a few screenshots from some records she’d located. Her words were simple: I think I found him. And, she has. The 23 yr old man, that killed my 23 yr old daughter, is now a 35 yr old living not far from where I work. Everyday. I have his current address saved on my phone. All of the energy I had upon waking up instantly left me. I’ve been waiting for this information for a while and now that I had it, did I really want it? I mean . . . he’s 35. Becca will never be 35. He has a home. Becca was robbed of her future. He’s lived the eleven years that she lost. Could I really contact him? Should I?

I am pretty open about who I am and what I feel. I’ve shared about my desire to meet him. A few people have told me that they are surprised I want to contact this man. They would understand, they said, if I was doing so to scream at him. But that is not what I want. My soul needs to extend forgiveness to his soul. I have tried to explain to these people why I feel compelled to share forgiveness with him.

I don’t believe he set out, that long ago night, to hurt anyone . . . or to kill my Becca. Though his mother behaved reprehensibly, after the crash, I can not believe her wish was for her son to grow up and end someone’s life. His crime is categorized as an “unintentional death” which I now understand. If he had searched out my daughter, hunted her and preyed upon her, then I am not sure there would be any forgiveness in my heart. This isn’t the case, though.

If the circumstances had been different and it had been my child driving . . . I wouldn’t stop loving them. I would do everything in my power to help them overcome the emotional toll this would undoubtedly take. I’d be there every step of the way to help them put their life back together and find happiness in every day. How can I not want this for another mother’s child?

Becca’s life never had the chance to blossom to its full potential. Her chance to change the world and make it a better place was cruelly snatched away from her in a second. The lives she might have helped, especially the children she should have had the chance to teach, are less rich without her having touched them. She would have done great things. Don’t we all think this about our children? And, doesn’t every single one of us have the potential to do world changing things? Including this man. I don’t want the fact that the event he caused, that killed my Becca, stops him from being all that he can be in this life. One life, her life, was ended in tragedy. I don’t want two to end the same way.

So, here I sit writing this blog piece. The words coming easily as I put thought to the screen. Oddly, I’ve started three handwritten letters to him and can’t seem to put together the right words. Do I tell him I forgive him straight off . . . so in case he doesn’t want to meet me he at least knows? What should my first sentence be? How do I introduce myself? Do I put my name on the outside of the envelope? Or will that stop him from even opening it? Will he even meet with me? Will my appearance in his life cause him anger about an event he’s trying to forget? There is no way to know any of these answers. I must take the chance and extend the possibility to him. I sincerely hope he contacts me in return.

If I do meet him face to face and he has no desire to be forgiven by me . . . that is alright. Maybe he just doesn’t understand that his soul needs it. That my soul needs it. That Becca’s soul will have greater peace because of our meeting. I will have a sense of closure around the person who ended her life. I believe this is necessary for me to keep healing. Right now he is merely a foggy image, standing in the courtroom, as I screamed at him to look at Becca’s picture. I need his image to become more solid in my mind. I need it to be real.

Whether you agree, or disagree, with my attempt to contact him I thank you for reading this piece of writing. I am scared. Terrified. Anxious. But, most of all, hopeful.

I am hopeful that our meeting will somehow bring good to the world.


Ordinary Days

The past few days my thoughts have particularly active in my head. This is nothing new for me. I seem to go through “dry times” when I can’t put enough words together to make a coherent sentence let alone write a blog! I often doubt, during those times, if I’ll ever have anything worth saying again. Maybe I have used up all of my words. Or, thought of everything I can think of. Weird, I know. I think it’s a writer’s thing. After time passes, the floodgates open and new thoughts and connections come tumbling to the forefront. All at once.

I carry a small notebook with me everywhere I go because I learned the hard way that not all thoughts resurface. Some of them come but once and if you don’t catch them you’ve lost them forever. I know I’ve let, what I consider gems, slip through my fingers. Hence, the notebook. I mean, if spirit is going to send me words then I damn better receive them!

Thursday, Friday, and especially today, the gates opened and the thoughts that have been forming flowed full force into my notebook. The half dozen different ideas, on the surface seemingly very different, all connected beautifully . . . each a pearl strung on the same cord. I am amazed when this happens.

In my apron pocket, at work, was the small yellow notebook covered with butterflies. In between customers I scribbled my thoughts onto clean pages. I filled up three of them. On the drive ,I let my mind nibble on each, trying to choose one for tonight’s writing. I thought I’d chosen one, pertaining to tomorrow, Mother’s Day. Upon arriving home, instead of writing, I decided to work on an art project I am entering into a local contest. The featured picture above this blog is a photograph of the project thus far. I am creating an image of my daughter in heaven.

As I was applying the plaster to the area which is the angel’s dress . . . I froze.

With a different past . . . in another future . . . this could be my daughter in her wedding dress.

The thought, the loss, what was taken from her, from us all . . . came crashing down on me like an avalanche. As I cried, but still continued on making her gown, this blog came to me nearly complete. I won’t be writing about Mother’s Day in the way I had intended.

Instead, I will be sharing my thoughts on the anguish held in ordinary days.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. I know far too many women who will be barely surviving while they miss their deceased child. The pain, especially on days like this, is just to immense to be able to describe adequately. We try to find a way to make it through the day. So, we are told to make plans. Make a plan that doesn’t leave us alone. Make a plan to have someone check on you if you insist on being alone. Make a plan to visit your child’s grave, if you want, or a plan to volunteer somewhere. The most important plan is the one we have that saves our lives if it all becomes too much.

With so much emphasis on how we are going to maneuver these harrowing hours on milestone days we are unprepared for the ones that hit us in the ordinary days.We don’t see them coming until they are upon us. We are caught off guard. Our defenses are down. We don’t expect to be blindsided so when the blow lands it’s crushing. Today, for me, was one of those very ordinary days.

I often think of my daughter when I am creating. Even when the subject matter is not how I view her in heaven. When I am holding a paintbrush my mind is calm and she drifts back and forth through all of my thoughts. Today, the art and real life collided in a way I hadn’t expected. And I lost my balance.

I guess the message I hope to share in this short blog is to tell other grieving mothers to prepare as much as you can to survive the “big days”. But also keep in the back of your mind that the very ordinary moments, we all experience, will be just as painful. Actually, maybe even a little more. Our feet are upon a very difficult path, our footing is not always stable, and we are easily toppled. Expect to fall.

To those who love and support a bereaved mom: Expect her to fall. Just help her get back up, please.

She will need you again and again.

Especially on the ordinary days.

Creating Heaven

The past few weeks have been chaotic. In both good, and not so good, ways. But, that’s life, right? It is indeed. So, we have to find ways to ride the changes that we choose, as well as those that are thrown at us, unexpectedly. The latter are the ones that tend to be the most difficult I have found.

The last fourteen, or so, days have been very trying. I’ve had little time to just be. And, just being is essential to maintaining equilibrium in my life. Both emotionally and physically. As I said, it’s been trying. With the little down time I do have I try to cram as much into it as possible. When I do that, however, everything I attempt is lacking. Then I end up feeling as if I’ve failed, which adds even more anxiety to my life. Tonight I’ve chosen to write instead of doing anything else. But, I am going to write about what I’ve spent my creative energy on, as of late.

The picture above is of a 4 ft. x 5 ft panel. I have three of them on which I am creating a 12 ft angel. The angel is a depiction of my daughter in heaven. This first panel holds her face, the tops of her wings, and the night time sunset sky. I’m entering it into a local art show/competition.

One of the many hard things I’ve had to do, since losing my child, is to become accustomed to her not being “here”. Instead, attempting to envision her “there”. My concept of heaven, I’m sure, differs from many others. The movie “What Dreams May Come” (which I refer to quite often) explains a version that comes closest to what I believe. Initially, heaven appears as the most comforting place you can think of, using your ideas of comfort from your living life. Robin William’s character finds himself in a painted version because he loved his wife’s paintings in their life together. This happens in order to ease the person into the truth of having died. Of being removed from our living loved ones presence. I think this is the same for me, here.

When my boys move to a new place I always ask them to send me a picture of their room. It helps put my anxiety to rest if I can see their surroundings. Then I can picture them there, safe, in their bed at night. Just one of the many mental calisthenics I engage in to assuage my fears and give me the belief all is well in my world. I’ve found myself doing the same with Becca. I can’t ask her for a photo of where she is, obviously, so I try to create it myself. “Doing” for me is as important as “thinking”. I have to work through things in order to make them real to me.

About six months ago I started to paint angels. One day, a vision of an angel painting popped into my head. I knew that the canvas had to be textured because I wanted the wings to really stand out. Since then, I’ve done about a dozen or so angel paintings. It wasn’t until I’d been painting them for a month that I realized why I was doing them. Even though it’s been eleven years since my daughter was killed there is still part of me that can’t accept it. Hence, I dove right into creating angels. My soul knew it was time to understand her absence completely. In order to do this I have to be immersed in the concept of heaven and angels.

The first angel paintings were quick and easy. I don’t put faces on them. I said this was because I know I could never make their faces as beautiful as they truly are. I think it’s more accurate that I would want to make every angel face Becca’s and I wasn’t ready for that. I’m not sure if I am or ever will be ready. So, to the people I explained the lack of facial features, I think I’ve excavated the real reason why. Somewhere, deep in my soul, a tear was stitched together a little bit.

When I witness a sunset I always picture Becca gliding across the colors in the sky. Running her hands through their depths. Snapping her fingers she sends the hues skittering across the horizon. I know she is laughing. I see her this way because it is what makes sense to me. It’s what soothes me. Her new surroundings are what I am trying to replicate with this piece of art.

This is the largest piece I’ve ever created. My children are the best things I’ve ever done in life. It only makes sense to bring them together. Creating is my prayer. This piece is a pilgrimage. Moving me toward acceptance. I don’t think I will ever be done “accepting” her death.

So I will just keep creating angels.

Note: If you are interested in following my progress on the art piece I’ve mentioned, please go to “Touching Heaven”, on both Facebook and Instagram. I’d love to see you there.