Yesterday (Friday 24th August) I was reminded yet again how short a life is and how important it is to get on with it and pack as much living into a lifetime as we can.
My oldest friend, a lady who took over as a mother figure in my life after my own mum died in 1984, and whom I had know since my teens, was laid to rest in the Yea Cemetery. Joan was a woman of boundless love for people and huge faith. She went excitedly to meet her maker as if she was going to a meeting with a pen pal she had been writing to all her life, grown to love, have faith in and trust and yet never met.
For the rest of us, we are left with that awful empty feeling when a significant person leaves us forever. For me it is nearly like losing my mum all over again as Joan was so supportive of my getting back to my fine art and also in returning to study – just as my mum had been when I first started out in my teens.
I regularly sent Joan letters with colour laser prints of my newest works (she wasn’t a technical person even though she had a medical and science background and was highly educated). I also did a commission for her last year and we worked very closely in collaboration on the photo shoot and the whole project. It was an artwork of faith and symbolism showing the Bible, bread, wine and candles representing the light of faith – all to show her faith and who she was as a memento for her family and friends.
So many people at the funeral said to me, “oh, you are the artist who did her painting, she loved your painting. We love it too” Lovely to hear but also very painful.
Now it is a day later. I have been in the studio trying to get a few projects done for homework and assessment tasks underway especially for print class which I missed yesterday. In my head I can head Joan saying “Oh Really Janice!, I’m fine will you please just be happy and get on with it!” But I am really really sad and its hard to be on the ball and a creative whiz when you want to curl up in a ball and cry.
OK Joan, I will slowly pick up the pieces and try not to disappoint you and myself by failing to do my very best and succeed in this life that I have been allocated. But its not going to be the same without you, and that is just a fact. This week I will celebrate my birthday without that yearly phone call from you. I will go to school and I will do my best. I will have lunch with my brothers, dinner with my loving husband and show up for volunteering at McClelland Gallery because I know that’s what you’d expect of me, and I expect of myself.
I will do my best to make this life of mine mean something and try to achieve the best I can because I know that people who have had faith in me to do so would be disappointed if I didn’t. I am not going to give up, I will not fail if I have any say in it because there were strong women who had faith in me and taught me to have faith in myself too, you, my mum and my sister and I miss you all.