I guess there is something called “Siblings Day?” Fine, here are three of mine. 75% is the best I can do on a Friday night, and if you, like me, have a daughter on the edge of thirteen, you will understand that she was unavailable for this photo op. In fact, if you are reading this on a Friday night, you are either old or you have a newborn.
I took a few hours off of work today to take Lizzie to the orthopedic. She had her cast/boot removed and was given the thumbs up to return to volleyball next week. Queue soundtrack of screaming girls here.
I also took Quinn to the pediatrician because his ears hurt and he had a fever. However, the pediatrician had a Blues Clues mailbox toy in the waiting room, which delighted Quinn to no end, so by the time he finally saw her (clad in his Spiderman jammies and blue crocs), he was happier than a Gerber baby. He showed her his stuffed dog, Bubbles, and pointed out that the heart imprinted on her tag was “upside down.” He chatted like a happy, drunk sailor until the doctor declared that “this kid is fine.” There is $200 well spent.
Who I should have taken to the doctor was Greta dog, but I am hoping the foul smelling urine she has goin’ on right now has more to do with the fact that she ate a box of graham crackers, an entire coffee cake, chocolates, and Trader Joe’s Rocket Baby Cheese bites, more than it does something serious. Don’t die now, Greta. That would be the nail in my coffin.
I asked my sophomore drawing students to create a drawing about someone who had greatly influenced them. One student, new to me this year, decided to draw her mother. Her mom, I learned, died two years ago of brain cancer. My student’s father asked her mother, as she lay in her final hospital bed, “where are you, Dear?” and her mom answered, “I am on a boat.”
This story landed in the space between my throat and my sternum. It landed with a thump. I did not cry. I told my student, who could not decide how to pursue the portrait, “Close your eyes and listen to her now. She will tell you. Just trust it.”
This made me think about another former student who resents the fact that my work is about me. His work is about war and injustice and poverty. His work is amazing and powerful. I know, even now, that he thinks my work is silly. He stopped following me on Twitter. Here is why I do not make work about the world at large, about war, about politics, about injustice:
I do not draw or paint about these things because even knowing they exist is a form or torture for me. If I turn on the news and see that a toddler shot himself with his mother’s gun, an accident. . . I will not let that story go. Ever. It will brew in me, a virus, until my heart has so many holes in it, It resembles a paper doily. Some folks can read the news, read about a classroom full of kindergartners being gunned down by a madman, and they will shake their heads and say aloud, “It’s a shame,” but for me, that shame will weave itself into by bones for so long that I cannot breathe without recalling it.
This same student, the one who thinks my work is silly, he posted the most amazing photograph of two boys who lost everything to war. For days, I stared at that photo in a panic. I worried for them, I prayed for them, I imagined packing up boxes of care packages with winter coats and silly putty enclosed in them. Their faces, their brown eyes, are nested in my heart, and if I was an actor and I was directed to cry on demand, all I would have to do is flutter my lashes and imagine the curve of their lips.
They, too, were siblings. That, then, is why I work the way I do. There is something among all of us that connects us despite it all. That is what I am trying to do here. That is why Kermit singing “Rainbow Connection” makes me cry every damn time. War or no war, there is a thread that binds us all. I am in search of it.
Happy siblings day, especially to you, Christopher Frederick, who I love more than anything.