Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dear Departed Drawings ~ Trees and Tents with Lucia

I met Lucias mother, Angie,  March 8, 2014.  I attended a poetry reading and book signing at Mulberry Art Studios for To Linger on Hot Coals.  I was there for Violet and her mother, Devany who was reading her poetry and one of the authors signing books.  I went by myself, sat alone and immersed myself in the baby loss community while listening to strong women express their emotions.  It took my breath away.  After the readings, four of the poetry contributors gathered to sign books, answer questions and offer support.  I felt really awkward, it was my first time meeting Violets mother and being inside the studio.  While I was busy blending in with my surroundings I kept feeling drawn to Lucias mother, Angie, from the first minute I saw her.  I too was feeling grief and felt very at home with all these grieving families because it was six days after the first anniversary of my dear friend Houds death.  We spoke just a handful of words between us that day as she signed my book.  I could not look away from her and kept wondering about her, how mysterious.  

Later I discovered she was the owner of the Moon + Stone Healing which immediately drew my interest.   I saw on her Facebook healing page that she was offering tarot card pulls to the first 10 responders.  *hand raise*  I posted the card she pulled and her explanation on the blog that day.  After that insightful day we again crossed paths at the MUM expo a few weeks later in passing.  I began finding out all kinds of wonderful things about Angie.  I began attending classes that sparked my intrigue at Alta View Wellness Center and eventually I was added to her friends list on Facebook.   I didn't find out about Lucia until October 15th 2014 when Angie posted a photo of her altar for Dia de Los Muertos.  Which by the way I had not really seen a Day of the Dead altar prior to this.  

The day of the dead intrigues me and I love the concept.  I've always loved the skulls and beautiful decorations but after Lucias mama posted the photo I immediately started researching the history.  I love this particular sites explanation.  I then contacted Angie directly in December as Lucias birthday December 22nd approached.  She led me to her blog Still Life with Circles where I read about Lucia.  Immediately immersed with Lucia and her story.  I grieved right along with Angie.  And then I knew Lucia was to be after Kole.   I chose to draw this photo of Lucia and the clay meditation mama that Angie made because this mama was not only leaving behind her baby but the clay statue she made with all her good intentions and hopes for her daughters precious life.  She is complete and beautiful.  

Since then Angie has enriched my life far beyond what I could imagine.   I've learned so much about crystals and seen so many beautiful crystal grids that have inspired me to learn to batik.  I now make beautiful crystal grids and they are always being put to good use by Angie and Alta View!

Angie held a New Moon Circle for setting intentions and releasing things that no longer serve.  It was such a healing three months for me.  I know I still have lots of learning and healing to do with myself, but now I have some tools to help me.  She walked alongside of me through the whole journey and the other women in the circle.  She continues to amaze me.  I've picked up little tidbits of useful knowledge from her nearly everyday.  Discovering new recipes like Golden Milk, learning to de-feather a bird, how to make gem water, finding out about Ayurveda, seeing my spirit guide for the first time, showing me Visual Quest which I am promptly signing up for this year, to name just a few.  I've learned about myself, about Lucia, what its like grieving a stillborn baby.  Angie has given me a crystal healing, which connected us and was simply amazing.  She has gifted me my own set of crystals to use for my grief work and taught me how to release all those emotions, grief and loss that I pull in to channel my portrait subjects.  I am so blessed to know her and be allowed to draw Lucia for her and her family.  Thank you Angie, for inviting me in and letting me be a part of your world.  Lucia is one of the most challenging portraits I've done to date.  A real pleasure to be able to provide her family with a beautiful drawing of her divine beauty.

I've asked Angie if there is anything she has to say.....anything she wants to share....
In Angies words:

"Over six years ago, my daughter Lucia Paz, named after Light and Peace, died inside of me. Thirty-eight weeks pregnant, labor started, then stopped, and started again. Her movements slowed, and I prepared for her. I rubbed oil into my belly, and sang her songs about the Earth. I frantically cleaned, and hung a hammock from the beams in our home, to ease labor. I wrapped it around my body, and eased the pressure in my back. I don't think I ever felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant with my second daughter.

I have pictures of those days before she died. My husband making a huge big pot of French Onion soup, smiling at the camera, readying for his second daughter. My twenty-month old daughter Beatrice with my husband's stethoscope trying to find a heartbeat that already stopped, us oblivious. Me, belly out, tired and ready to be a mama again. After two days of stilted labor, she felt limp in my belly. I would lift her in my tummy, rearrange her, and she wouldn't respond. When I noticed that, we went into the hospital. They told us she died and made me stare that at the hauntingly motionless ultrasound picture. "We are sorry. She passed away." The doctor said. No heartbeat. No kicks. No daughter at Christmas.

It was Winter Solstice, and I never left the hospital. They wheeled me into the labor and delivery area where I stayed for 24 hours of heartbreakingly torturous labor, talking to a ministerial nurse who played through this new reality over and over. I told her Buddhist folktales, and we cried together often. She just abided in my grief, and stayed still, and told me that I would make meaning from this. She told me to take pictures, but I didn't realize I'd want good pictures. No one mentioned professional photographers, or the service I now recommend to everyone--Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. My husband and I snapped some strange pictures of each other crying and holding her, and others with her in a bassinet, blood still staining the blankets. She had died sometime in the days before we found out. I was too busy and contracting too much to notice her movements slowed. And anyway, I had read baby slows down before birth. (That is not true, by the way.)

When we came home, I used to look at the pictures over and over again. But my husband could not look. She was so bruised, covered with thick vernix. Her lips were bright red from the blood pooling in the head after death. And the skin on her eyelids were peeling off. To Sam, she looked too dead. To me, she looked like my family, my nose, dark skin, and wild gypsy black hair. I asked to put a photograph of her in the house, and my husband refused. It was too much, he said. And so, she became my daily secret ritual. I snuck into the office and just stared at her on the screen. I had one photograph of her in our home, a photograph of me pregnant with Lucia at 28 weeks, my husband's hands wrapped around my waist.

I began painting her and I together. Me holding her in a hospital gown. Me as the Virgin Mary holding her. Me carrying her. But it wasn't the same. I stopped looking at the pictures of her. It was part of her death that I regretted--good photographs. Last year, I met Amanda at a reading for the book To Linger on Hot Coals. Then our paths kept crossing. Finally, she asked to see a picture of Lucia. Most of my family had not seen pictures of Lucia Paz, and I couldn't decide if I should or should not share them. It felt like exposing the most tender part of myself, leaving my most vulnerable places in me open to the sky. And yet, I trusted her. She asked if she could draw Lucia. I was both terrified and honored and sad and excited. This path unfurling in front of me was one I simply had to take. I agreed.

Watching my daughter come to life has been one of the most profoundly amazing experiences of my life. Six years ago, she was taken away from me, and in a small way, I feel like Amanda gave me part of her back. Finally, I have a picture of her that looks like the baby I saw on Winter Solstice 2008. That looks like the baby I held, and the baby I see in my mind's eye. With my son's nose, and my daughter's forehead, and all the bits from both of us--Lucia Paz--this amazingly beautiful drawing is who she is. As the picture developed, it is like she was talking through Amanda, showing herself to me, popping out, "Peek-a-boo." I cried nearly every time I saw the blog pop up on my feed. It often caught me off guard, and I admit felt strange, sometimes violating, and then quickly moved to comforting.

"Here I am, Mama," my little lady bug whispered. "Always here with you."

Day one of Lucias portrait starts here

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