36x36 Acrylic/ Resin/ Glitter - ready to hang!
“Your skin is soft like Sunday.” My husband says in his expensive, professional voice with a different depth to it - that slight variation of pitch when I know he is speaking just for me. Nobody else would catch the slight nuance but I do and it makes me smile.
Sunday is our tiny new black kitten. We found him this Sunday. 1.25 pounds and screaming his head off in our backyard. Screaming “Help” but doing everything in his tiny power to just keep running. After a vet trip, a lot of food and cuddles, a cat condo set up just for him for a while as he adjusts to the house, and a lot of love - he is fluffy, tiny, soft, and jet-black. He is so strong for surviving what most (likely all of his siblings) did not - but so weak from that fight that it would be easy to overlook. He likes being held the best, and bare skin. He always finds the part of my arm without fabric on it and snuggles up there.
People love to say they rescued something. I feel like it was just time to give what I was given and so the opportunity presented itself. The art form of providing time, love, and attention - even if this is the most overwhelmed with everyday life I’ve ever felt with work and output.
My mentor's birthday is tomorrow. And the day after that is the year anniversary of her death. I still talk to her all of the time when I’m alone in my car or gazing blankly in the mirror in the hot room. I pout sometimes. Asking her if she realizes how much shit I am going to have to do for the rest of my life to maintain a spiritual connection she promised me someday I would find so that I don’t lose it and end up average or worse - asleep without a spirit.
Her daughter Michelle shared with me that her Mom loved the song Black Velvet by Alannah Miles. I cracked up at this because it just made her seem so.. human. Just listening to the radio in 1989 like the rest of us hoping to hear our favorite song and hit record on the blank tape. Today on my way home from my class I taught just as I started the car that song came on. So I put the top of my Mustang down and played that song as loud as it went. What is life if you aren’t sobbing over 80s top 40 music at 9 pm on a Tuesday at a stoplight in the pitch black? Overwhelmed with the jolt of what I can still feel, what I know I lost but more so - everything I have become because of it. It was freezing. I forgot a coat. The wind didn’t apologize. She always told me that once she died I’d always find her in the wind. Sometimes it’s all too much but I’m here to hold space for a lot.
Maybe she sent us our kitten Sunday so I could remember who I was, and at one point in my life how badly I needed to feel like my pain mattered - no matter how fiercely I would run or push anyone trying to help me away. Because man did I push her away. I made it all her fault and she let me because she knew I was too traumatized to know how to do anything different. She sent me a reminder I guess. That I have been through enough to pass everything I was given on.
Starting with living amends to myself by taking care of my body every day, gratitude, being a good sponsor in recovery and working the damn program, creating art with a voice, and taking care of a family of now six animals that are all our babies. My dachshunds especially are turning the age where I am their advocate and managing their health. I swear for the first six years it was the other way around. Dozens of times the only reason I didn’t go out and get high to feel better was because I knew I would lose Penelope and Harleaux. I know that addiction has the power to make you lose everything before it kills you. And they would be first. Or worse. They would have to stay with me and live like that. There is so much worse than death in my opinion.
Just like our kitten Sunday I was once so scared that the world seemed too insanely big for me to survive. I was covered in bugs and being swallowed whole too. But someone told me I could get healthy. She taught me about light and shadow. Franciscan monasteries and how to read the wind in silence, how to walk a labyrinth, and she gave me the book “Illuminations” which to this day is the most important book I have ever been given. She taught me the world wasn’t just something to disassociate from in order to defend myself. She told me to write. She told me to paint. She would laugh and said, “How on Earth you ended up on this chair with me is something I will never ever know.” At the time it made me feel like I was special. I think now she was having a laugh about what on Earth was she supposed to do with me. I hope that wherever she is now, in whatever form, she knows why, so she can tell me when we meet again.
I have been working on this collection of black and whites for a short time. They pop. They are light and shadow, duality. I love the concise and sharp contrast of each piece. Right as I unwrapped this canvas to start, the very last and largest piece of the black and white collection - into my life walked our new son, Sunday Evergarden Pond.
I work every day to contribute to my mentor's legacy of believing in people, magic, and that once you know, you know, and once you know, you pay it forward or else you don’t get to keep knowing. So you can be strong enough to show softness where it is needed, and tough enough to respect how much it took to receive enough love to give it back out in return.
This black, white, and magic painting is a portrait of that knowing - the brightest light casts the darkest shadow - and to know how to walk the Earth as both at the same time is not only miraculous - it is what we all came here to do.
When you know, you know.