Art, grief and grieving, Landscape, Leslie Robinson Sharp, Life, oil painting, Painting, Urban Landscape

The World Looks Different When Traveling Alone

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"The World Looks Different When I Traveling Alone" 30" x 48" oil on linen
“The World Looks Different When Traveling Alone”
30″ x 48″ oil on linen

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I’m now nine months into grieving the loss of my wife and in some ways, it’s gotten lighter. I’m generally hard on myself but I will give myself credit for working hard to try and grow from this experience. As I’ve said before, Leslie died without a second of self pity and that made it impossible for me to slip into that mud, even though it seemed likely, given my inclinations.

I’ve also written before about the courage Leslie showed in facing her death. She accepted it and walked toward it willingly and proudly, knowing she’d lived a wonderful life. She even joked on the way to death’s door. Although the experience was profound, it wasn’t heavy. We shared a lot of laughter during her last days. She showed no fear and, although we cried at our becoming separated, she approached it with dignity and grace. There was nothing sad about her death. It was magnificent and miraculous. It is her absence that causes me pain.

I’m often confused about my feelings and suffer very strong emotional waves. Sometimes it feels like I really can’t endure another wave but they keep  coming. I never know when or where they’ll hit. I’ve learned to strap on my seat belt and observe my thoughts as they surge through me. Sometimes the longing to feel loved and connected to someone overwhelms me and I reach out to some unsuspecting friend with a heartfelt outpouring of gratitude and love. I worry that I sometimes overwhelm people with my urgent need for connection. Then, of course, I suffer over that.

In recent weeks, Ive felt myself start to turn away from my reverie over death and try to find something in life that I can engage myself in. I’ve felt some moments of acceptance and even feel satisfied for brief moments. As I turn back toward life, I realize that I have an opportunity to remake my life in any way I want to. Currently I feel consumed with the idea of having my life be used for something worthwhile.  I’m aware that I’ve been through these periods before and they’re fragile and shatter easily. I’m doing my best to stay as grounded as I can while still believing in the possibility that I can be useful, maybe even inspiring.
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"Two Dogs attending in Hospice" ink and watercolor in sketchbook
“Two Dogs attending in Hospice”
ink and watercolor in sketchbook

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I want to share this poem by the great John O’Donahue, who my friend Eithna Joyce introduced me to.

For Grief ~ John O’Donahue
There are days when you wake up happy;
Again inside the fullness of life,
Until the moment breaks
And you are thrown back
Onto the black tide of loss.
Days when you have your heart back,
You are able to function well
Until in the middle of work or encounter,
Suddenly with no warning,
You are ambushed by grief.
It becomes hard to trust yourself.
All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

Art, grief and grieving, Life, Still Life, watercolor

Sketch of a blue pitcher

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Blue Pitcher 7" x 10"  watercolor and ink
Blue Pitcher
7″ x 10″ watercolor and ink

A little sketchbook painting, while I try to figure out where to go next.

I’ve noticed that my interactions with people and the way I communicate, both in person and in writing, seem more deeply felt. I believe that, having lived through a time of urgent communication with Les, when I was frantic to leave nothing unsaid, has spoiled me for light banter.

Even though Les’ last days were so painful, I often find myself wanting to be there again. The air in the room was so full of urgency and intimacy. We often speak of the miracle of birth but death is a miracle as well. We tried our best to treat it like that. It seems so absurd, now, that we connected even more deeply just before parting forever.

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Art, grief and grieving, Life, Sketching

Life and drawing

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It’s been three months since my wife, Leslie, died. I find that these milestones have more of an impact on me than I expect them to. It also is really hard to believe that it’s only been 3 months. My poor brain has been through so many changes it feels more like 3 years. I get a kind of panicky feeling when these things occur. Aside from these temporal milestones, it’s sometimes triggered by doing some mundane task around the house that Les either used to do or relied on me to do.  An empty feeling follows the realization that it’s just me now. I don’t mean to be dramatic. The saddest parts are always about me, not Les. I’m just trying to share what this is like.

I’m trying to find a balance between keeping myself busy but not so busy that I avoid feeling what comes up. I regret not spending more time drawing the figure so I’m trying to get myself out to Life Drawing sessions more frequently. I went to one the night before the 3 month mark, when I was starting to feel the panic coming on. It was a good thing to do, because, to draw well, I have to relax and focus at the same time, which can be a tricky thing for me to do.

My drawings are not very good and it’s clear that I need to spend time on drawing hands and feet, especially. I share them here as part of my process. I hope to attend these sessions regularly for a while.

Ballpoint and Pitt Artist Pens
Ballpoint and Pitt Artist Pens

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Hipbone 2

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Leslie Robinson Sharp, Life, Sketching, Still Life, Urban Landscape, watercolor

Miscellaneous

It seems that some subscribers have stopped receiving email notifications when I publish a new post. This is a test to see if it gets through.

So as not to totally waste your time, if you do receive this, I’ll add a couple of sketches.

Building a New LIfe (sketch) watercolor w black and white ink
Building a New LIfe (sketch)
watercolor w black and white ink

This is a sketchbook drawing for the oil painting “Building a New LIfe From the Wreckage of my Old Life”  That’s a long title but I had to do it.

Les' Red Coat watercolor and ink
Les’ Red Coat
watercolor and ink

This is a new sketch. I’m experimenting with painting some of my wife’s possessions.

I know this sounds like I’m fishing for comments but I would love to hear back if you receive an email notification from this post. Thanks.