For anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, you know all too well the literal, emotional, and metaphorical purge that takes place in the days, weeks, and even years to come. What items do we keep? Which memories do I treasure? Which moments do I need to hang on to? How do I decide what matters?
As time passes, this can become even more difficult. I have even feared sometimes that, like sand, the tighter I hold on, the faster something might slip away. What if all of it matters?
I have the unique distinction of having held two of my children as they passed away. That’s a long story for another time and place – but for now, here’s what I know in deciding what memories are precious, which items I hold dear, and which mementos have remained special. Even after 6+ years, some of my most treasured possessions are their art.
I love seeing their chubby handprints painted yellow in the form of a butterfly wishing me a “Happy Mother’s Day” from their preschool.
A merry little globe displays a thumbprint reindeer. It’s a lovely ornament I celebrate every time I open it. It hangs proudly on our tree every year.
And this little panda, which Landon and I painted together hand over hand - I can still feel him. The softness of his hand contrasted with the coolness of the paint we undoubtedly got all over our fingers. In fact, if I close my eyes, it even still smells like a combination of his shampoo, paint, and maybe even a salty tear.
Art is powerful. Art takes us places. For me, art transcends pain and grief and packages that heartache into a joyful memory - A memory that even if only for a moment, helps me fully remember, not just in gray but in color. A memory I can touch, from a moment that matters.