So I’m in my shed today, and I’m painting the walls. It’s the final stage of turning this rusty old garage into a studio space, a place where I can make my art and prepare for my workshops. I’m standing on a raised platform my brother-in-law built for me to protect my gear from the damp. I’ve laid down Greg’s old wheelchair ramps for extra stability. It feels kind of significant but I don’t really know why.
I’m in unfamiliar territory, I’ve never really painted walls all by myself. How hard can it be? But pretty soon my gloved hands are too slick with paint to hold the roller properly, and they’re all achy from all the gripping and the rolling.
Several realisations occur almost simultaneously.
- There’s a good reason this is unfamiliar. I really don’t like painting walls.
- This is mind-numbingly monotonous and quite uncomfortable.
- I’m going to have to have some music playing. (For someone who always prefers total silence, this is quite a revelation).
The music does the job and distracts me from the monotony and discomfort. I decide to focus on the fact that, despite the banality, covering a wall in white paint can be strangely satisfying.
Things begin to improve… Dido is singing…
“I want to thank you for giving me the best days of my life.
Just to be with you is having the best day of my life.”
All of a sudden I’m weeping.
Pull yourself together, woman. You know they weren’t all ‘best days’.
Three decades of togetherness can result in some days were Pretty Ordinary Days.
… But there were so many Best Days.
One of the great things about my bereavement (there’s a weird sentence right there) is that even though I remember the awful times, they’re a bit like a faded photograph. The Best Days, however, are in full, vibrant Colour. Strong. Clear.
And I realised that even though I am so mad at him for leaving me in this world without him, mad at him for dying, I am so, so lucky that I had those Best Days.
So lucky that we had an Epic Romance.
That it morphed into a Very Long Friendship.
That we survived the Horrible Times.
That I experienced his strength and loyalty and musical genius.
That he left me his beautiful Rachel and our lovely Mary.
That I took care of him for four years as he navigated his illness and disability.
That he died right in front of me, in our home, while I was stroking his forehead and his whole family and mine were gathered to send him off.
I’m still painting. Now I’ve finished a whole wall. I notice John Mayer is singing,
“Someday I’ll fly.
Someday I’ll soar.”
Yep, that’s it right there. I decide that I’ll etch those words into the wet paint of my new studio.
Today is the four month anniversary of his passing.
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Heart-achingly beautiful… As always….
And you got me right in the middle of it 🙂
Really admire you painting those walls, alone.
Thanks Bob, I thought it was pretty brave too! My reward was that it sparked a whole lot of meaningful thought. Greg made me do it 🙂
I relate much to you , and of what you have shared of your journey …
I connect with you much and while I write this comment , I don’t have words to express .. Only that I connect much …. I just want to send hugs to you …
thank you dear. warmly received x
Dear Malini —
Like the birds in your paintings, you are already soaring! And you give wings to others so they can fly,, too.
If white walls are boring, why not turn them into a very large work of art? Someday that garage will be worth millions! 🙂
A few people have suggested that, Carol, but I happen to LOVE white walls, they give me space to think and create and a clean backdrop to hang my work! I just don’t (didn’t) like painting them…!!
Thank you so much for your very kind words.
Just beautiful. Really, just beautiful.
Thank you so very much, Robin.
I’m reminded that in a moment, unexpectedly, I could be beside you in sharing the grief of my husband dying ahead of me. I’ve lost both parents…(“lost” is such a strange word – they’re not misplaced – and I don’t believe they’ve ceased to exist.) You are wrapped in my thoughts and prayers as I live life across the world. I do recall grief comes in waves. ..sideways at times. I’m asking God to send His Shalom peace to enfold you as you take the next breath and the next. I hope one day to visit your new studio space and see your smile face to face…
in His loving kindness,
Yes, life is fragile and full of uncertainty… but we have to find our way to make peace with that. I really appreciate your prayers and kindness, Jody, and hope we will meet one day too 🙂
Dear Malini, this letter that you wrote is so beautiful, so full of sorrow, you are incredible. your words will certainly help others who are not able to express themselves as you do.
some day your life will open up again, and I send you all my wishes for courage patience and gentleness towards youself. Dominique Rose
I actually feel very fortunate, Dominique Rose. There is sadness in waves but even then, underlying everything is a sense of deep gratitude for a beautiful life, one that I have been so very lucky to be given. I hope that I live it well, for we are fortunate indeed to be here. Thank you so much for your very kind and loving words. x
As usual, I am reading behind a wall of tears, of admiration and respect.
oh gosh, I don’t know what to say to that. Thank you Wing. So honoured.
Once again tears flow in the insightfulness of what you write. Me- I’ve been married to my man for over 53 years, and when I read your words, realised that what i appreciate are the best times, forget the worst times and love him as he is. He swore he would never go on another road trip with me after our last big one in 2008 (not counting any in NZ); so was wonderfully surprised when he told his sister she couldn’t go with me as he was. (Got to remember to pronounce things slowly for him when saying place names, and not correct him when he gets it wrong!)
Thank you for reminding me that I need to hold on to my treasured husband as long as I can.
Well, that it is great thing to remember, so I feel my post was a little bit useful 🙂 I could have done a lot more of that when Greg was alive. But sadly, we tend to take for granted those who are always with us.
Love this Malini. You have a way of combining sad with hopeful in your writing at the same time. I always come away from reading your posts just a little calmer, more mindful and grateful. Thank you for sharing so much with us. xx
I am honoured that my posts make you feel that way, Pauline. I think so much of life is sad and also hopeful. Well I guess we would never experience hope without sadness. Thank YOU for taking the time.
Sending you lots of love and hugs as you navigate this intense journey. I cannot say I know what is to lose a love so great – but I imagine it can be lonesome journey no matter how many people are around.
Fresh white walls can be such a refreshing thing though right? I love them too for the possibilities they promise – perfect for crazy colourful artwork or just simple calm minimalist decor.
Also, do you read Susannah Conway? She began her blog (in 2005) as a way to process her bereavement and how it connected her to her creativity. I felt you may connect http://www.susannahconway.com/about-contact/
oh yes I relate very much to Susannah’s work and writing, loved her book too. And yes, you’ve put it very well, bereavement is a very ‘alone’ thing, no matter how supported one is. But there are so many daily blessings to focus on too. Hey, your little one is getting huge and gorgeous! And I love your art 🙂
The ocean of tears again. Brave face. Love your half finished wall – it looks like a bird flying!
I love that you can see a bird flying… The wall is all finished now, and I’ve actually flown clear across the country since then, so it was a bit prophetic 🙂