I lost my mother on Labor Day in 2012. She was diagnosed with leukemia that March, and we all spent the next six months holding our breath. Since her cancer had elements of both AML and ALL, there was no clear course of treatment. She therefore decided against chemo, but she responded beautifully to the weekly transfusions (tiger blood, we said) and she felt pretty well until she didn’t. In late August, she decided to discontinue the transfusions, and six days later, she was gone. I stayed with her in hospice for her last five days, and my brother, sister, sister-in-law, and I were all there when she passed.
I was glad I could be there when she needed me, and I held it together preparing for her funeral and the inevitable aftermath, the endless thank you notes, going through her things, getting Dad set up to be on his own. But when it was all over, I was completely lost. I felt like taking care of her was the most important thing I’d ever done, and I felt like nothing else that I did would ever matter in the same way. Then the hurricane hit and everything went to hell, but that is a story for another day.
In 2008, English artist Kirsty Mitchell, lost her mother to brain cancer. She says that when her mother died, her “world fell apart.” Boy, do I know how that feels. But she did something I wish I’d done. She channeled her grief into her art. She explains her process better than I ever could in her fascinating and heartbreaking bio.
Because her mother read to her “to an age I could no longer admit to my friends,” her photographic tributes all have an element of fantasy to them. Her lush, elaborate images convey pain and beauty in equal measures, and there’s a depth to them that’s almost too much to take in. The photos are really striking, and I am blown away by how evocative they are.
I wish I’d had the presence of mind to turn my grief into something beautiful, but I’m very glad that someone did.
July 20, 2014 at 10:09 am
Beautiful. I am crying… Big hugs and love to you, Wendy
July 21, 2014 at 10:11 am
Thank you, Wendy. That means a lot. Hugs and love back to you and Mitch.
July 20, 2014 at 10:32 am
Having lost my mother to cancer, too, this post spoke deeply to me. Thank you.
July 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm
I’m sorry about your mother. Thank you for your kind words.
July 20, 2014 at 10:11 pm
Thank you. And I am sorry about your mother and the impact losing her had on your life. It is never too late to channel our energies, should the impetus move you.
July 20, 2014 at 11:59 am
I am sorry for you loss. I feel your loss deeply through this post. I hope you find peace.
July 20, 2014 at 8:02 pm
Thank you, Colleen! That’s very kind. I am probably as peaceful as I’m going to be about Mom. Miss her every day, but now I would say I miss her in a good way.
I appreciate your note. Thanks.
July 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm
Grief manifests itself differently in each of us. You’re right, the photographs do convey both pain and beauty.
July 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm
I hope you liked them. Thanks for the visit.
July 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm
My dad will be gone eight years this Halliween and I am still grieving. Although I was finally permitted to see him in hospice in his final hours, he wouldn’t let us be by his side when he passed. I am grateful for what I was given and accept what I could not have.
The art is beautiful and moved me deeply. You and your mother are inseparable to me. Not a day has ever gone by in which we were talking that you didn’t mention her or I didn’t ask about her. I wish I could have known her better but in knowing you I got the next best thing.
No, I guess you didn’t get to turn your grief into Art in the way this artist did. But your mom did you one better by creating you… so all the world could enjoy her gifts through you, OUR one beautiful thing.
July 20, 2014 at 8:04 pm
July 20, 2014 at 2:53 pm
July 20, 2014 at 8:05 pm
July 22, 2014 at 8:42 am
Thank you, this was lovely. How lucky you are, that you were able to be with her during that time. I lost my father in April of 2012, and I loved your line about “taking care of her was the most important thing I’d ever done, and I felt like nothing else I did would ever matter in the same way.” I didn’t get to be with him as much as I would have liked, but the time I did have with him felt exactly that way to me. And I was lost after he died; sometimes I still feel lost. It was a few months later that I picked up yarn and started crocheting and knitting. I don’t know that it was intentional, to create beauty, but it did give my brain something else to think about, and it’s something that continues to give me joy. Thanks for sharing the beauty you find in life!
July 22, 2014 at 8:49 am
Thank you so much for telling your story, too!
July 23, 2014 at 9:59 am
Your post is so touching and the pictures you shared of Kristy Mitchell’s are amazing.
July 23, 2014 at 10:02 am
Thank you! I have a friend who is likely going to lose her mother this week, and it just brought it all back. I find I deal better with pain when I talk about it and try and find the positive. Thanks for the visit!
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August 5, 2017 at 4:55 am
Reblogged this on sketchuniverse and commented:
HELLO SISTERS ! HERE ARE THESE GORGEOUS AND STUNNING PICTURES. YOUR MIND CAN ADD ALL THE REST. ENJOY!
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August 5, 2017 at 4:57 am
Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.
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