During the Passover Seder, we eat charoset and horseradish together to remind us that in times of sorrow there is joy, and in times of happiness, there is often sadness too.
I had the immediate experience of this on Friday. Freddie came home from a week away. We were all set for a celebration dinner at Mishmish cafe - our favorite place. The Supreme Court decision declaring that the Constitution protects gay marriage gave us an extra reason to celebrate, and we went to dinner feeling festive and full of joy. Mishmish was the perfect place -- just look at these desserts!
As we were enjoying them, I got a call from my dad. As soon as I picked up the phone and heard his voice, I could tell something was wrong. Turns out that my cousin Alan had suddenly passed the night before (heart attack), just shy of his 65th birthday.
In a moment, my whole being went from feeling giddy with festive delight, to heavy with deep loss. My heart broke for my cousin Penny and cousin Jonathon, his brothers and my cousins Mark and Paul, and for my Aunt Helen, his mom.
It is hard enough to lose a child. But my Aunt Helen, 87, is also taking care of my Aunt Ruth, her identical twin, who has advanced Alzheimer's Disease. How could she bear this?
We had planned to attend the Gay Pride parade on Sunday, and celebrate love in a way that would be exuberant and joyful. But the funeral service and burial were on Sunday (Jewish law says that you bury or cremate the body within 24 hours, or in 48 if the Sabbath intervenes, as in Alan's case). In my sorrow, I thought of the joy and exuberance of the pride parade, where many of my friends were celebrating. It gave me comfort to be reminded of that happiness in the midst of my family's sadness.
I came home and painted. Starting with a small 6 x 6" square canvas board (I've been loving the square substrate lately) I stenciled with the Hearts, Flowers and more stencil, using the colors of the rainbow on a on a yellow background.
I created a mask with one of the girls from the Jump for Joy stencil. I did this by stenciling her image onto card stock, and then fussy cutting it out around her outline. Then I placed it on my canvas, and used a cosmetic sponge to wipe turquoise blue from the center of the mask out onto the canvas. I continued shading her, until it looked as though she was jumping out of her grief. It was also a commemoration of the Supreme Court decision - a rainbow figure jumping out of darkness.
|Soar, Joy, Love: 6 x 6 acrylic on canvas board. $35 + $7 for shipping and handling|
I added the words Joy, Soar and Love from the Jump for Joy stencil, and from the Teapot and Teacups stencil, and Happy Birthday Icons stencil.
Though my heart is heavy with the grief that comes from losing someone you love and feeling others' pain, I console myself knowing that tomorrow will be brighter.
I highly recommend the movie "Inside Out." It is a beautiful depiction of how joy and sadness must co-exist, to give us the richest experience of this fragile thing called life.
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