A series of small, quick , “mindful” self-reflective work completed during the pandemic—an epoch, which I consider the most challenging of my life for many of the same reasons that others do also—many of us experienced fear, isolation, confusion, anger, sadness, and loss.
These works were completed from late November 2020 to March 2021. I updated the post as I completed a new piece.
I am better off for having done this “art therapy” and now, I can move forward.
This is a poem by Maria Sabina Magdalena Garcia, a healer. I had no idea who she was until a saw a painting of her by a very talented artist, Javier Chavira. It was years ago, but it is my understanding that it is still part of the National Museum of Mexican Art's permanent collection in Chicago. It is an extraordinary painting titled Maria Sabina: I am Woman of Light--a must see in person.
Cúrate mijita, con la luz del sol y los rayos de la luna.
How it feels to fall in love.
The smell of English distilled turpentine.
The smell of the galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Gazing at Zurbaran’s Crucifixion of Christ between classes.
How the snow falls during a blizzard at night and hits my windshield.
Apollo playing in the snow.
The way the spring sun feels on my face.
How I perceive the sun with my eyes closed—all of its colors, like watercolors bleeding and blending.
The way children talk and the things they say when they think no one is listening.
The way they explore.
Watching them make art.
Lucid dreams of those who have passed.
Lucid dreams because they make me wonder.
The smell of diesel.
The sound of the ocean.
Westward Beach in Malibu.
How Yuki prepared sushi—I felt like I was eating art.
A cloudless blue sky.
How the sunshine glistening on the ocean looks like a pool of mercury.
The wet sand under my feet.
The smell of the ocean—the smell of Malibu.
The view of the ocean coming off the ramp onto PCH with Malibu in the distance.
The wind rustling through the leaves and the tall grass in the summer.
Watching my father engrave—watching him work.
Listening to my father’s stories.
The flat farmland.
The smell of clover.
The fireflies in the corn fields in July.
The smell of the fields after a summer rain.
The way David’s neck smelled when I caressed it with my lips.
The way his earlobes felt when I rubbed them between my thumb and index finger.
The kisses he gave me everyday, and often throughout the day.
That he always always told me that he loved me—he never held back a single "I love you".
The way he could feel me looking at him and how he would turn in my direction and smile at me.
How he held my hand when we walked.
That he made me feel safe.
His smile. His smile. His smile
How happy he looked when he walked with Deets and how much he loved that dog.
That he adored me.
How he encouraged and facilitated my art making.
That he happily converted the entire upper level of our home into my studio.
How proud he was of me at my first solo exhibit.
The cute little poems he wrote to me when we first got married.
That he made my morning coffee and even stirred it for me.
How his very large curly hair bounced from side to side as we all danced to Spencer Davis Group's “Gimme Some Loving” at the Civic Auditorium one summer when we were teenagers.
The first time David and I kissed on the steps of Brent Wadley’s basement—I was 14 or 15.
That he remembered that kiss, too.
When he took me to Beaurivage in Malibu for my birthday—everything was so thoughtfully planned.
The look of his arms, hands, and wrists—they were beautiful.
The way he looked on Christmas Eve, 1983—his black leather pants and red Malibu sweatshirt.
A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night—he played that record the night we re-met Christmas Eve 1983.
The way his mother’s eyes looked when she recounted how I looked when she told me that David would be visiting that Christmas.
Christmas and New Year Days when David and I went to the movie theater.
That David said, "I don't want to die because I love you so much and you will miss me too much. I've had a good life—I just want more".
That he was loved by so many and that they were so willing to help me when he passed away.
Lorrie's empathetic and non judgmental spirit.
That she accompanied me to Playa del Carmen after David passed because she didn’t want me to go alone.
That she’s easy to travel with.
Our trip to Chichen Itzá and Coba.
My bike transport down the hill.
That he checks in on me from time to time and that he does this for David.
Her mischievous spirit and generosity.
The care she takes in preparing the morning coffee.
Virginia’s kind heart.
That she crossed half the country in the middle of winter to support me in the most difficult decision of my life.
That she listened and never judged and she still listens and doesn’t judge.
Jamie’s peace and love of self.
How she cares for plants.
The parties she used to have at her apartment when we worked together—how much fun we had.
Nell’s quick wit and intellect.
The beautiful rack of lamb she prepared one Easter.
The day Toby and I arrived at her home at the break of dawn in our pajamas to celebrate her birthday—we sang Happy Birthday and threw rose petals at her.
The way Toby squeezed every last bit out of life.
Bike rides with him.
Toby dancing to Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.
Dancing with him for hours and hours at the Bistro in Chicago.
My brother, Javier's pure goodness.
Watching a movie in a theater.
Paramount Theater popcorn.
Going there on Sundays when we were children.
The smell of terra cotta vessels when they contain water.
The corridors with wrought iron railings in my grandmother’s courtyard at the house where she lived before we left Mexico.
Playing in that courtyard—bouncing the sunlight off mirrors.
The old buildings in the “zócalo” in Mexico City.
The smell of street vendor tacos and chorizo.
The birds singing in my grandmother’s courtyard—the house where she lived when we visited after moving to the US.
Earl’s lips and the way they felt as I followed their shape with my thumb.
The way he sighed when I kissed his eyelids and face.
Holding his face in my hands.
The way I felt, in my youth when I finally heard his voice after days of not hearing it.
That a few days after finally speaking to him years after asking him not to ever contact me, he called to tell me that he was “Coming home”.
The hug that he gave me when we parted after being reunited in 2017—I felt understood, loved, and comforted.
That he came back when I said that I wanted to see him again.
How he kissed me and gently held me in his arms.
That he wanted me to sit on his lap.
That he would often request, “Tell me you love me.”
The way he whispered in my ear, “I love you I love you I love you”.
The way he’d tell me, “Yo te amo un montón.”
When he would respond to my “I love you” with, “I love you more—the way he said “more”.
That he asked me not to walk in the woods alone.
That he told me that there was nothing I could ever say or do to make him stop loving me.
That I was able to speak to him the very night before he passed away.
And that as sick as he was that night, he thought to tell me that he didn’t want me to drive at night and that he would be coming home soon.
His smiling eyes.
The poems he wrote for me and the songs he sang to me.
That I loved so profoundly twice in my life and that those two times, I felt loved in return—I know I was loved in return.
The way reading all of this again has made me smile.