I guess I missed the New Year’s bash. I woke up late. Two weeks late. Last time I checked, it was December 17th and all was well. Then, the shit hit the fan.
Is life ever calm? Not for me it isn’t. Another medication change came a couple of days later, and so did the untimely death of my only cousin. The only real cousin I grew up with anyway. I have one on my dad’s side, but she is much older than I and I only spent very little time with her and her kids for about year when I was eight years old back when I lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania. And truthfully, I lived there on and off during that year. I won’t go into why. That’s a whole other story.
My mother had only one sibling – my Aunt Susan. She only had two children: a son who is five years older and a daughter five years younger than I am. He was sent away to live with his biological father when he was 15. I only saw him once after that, but Lisa, my younger cousin, lived in Los Angeles half the time, Pittsburgh, then Alabama the rest of the time.
My mom and Susie were close, although they fought a lot of the time too. Sometimes we would visit them and wind up flying home early because my mother and Susie just couldn’t get along for more than three days in a row under the same roof. It was easier when Susie lived in LA. She had her own place, but honestly, Lisa had always annoyed me. She was five years younger after all, and she had a big personality. She was rebellious, disrespected my aunt, and later got into drugs. I didn’t like her, probably because I didn’t have a good influence on her. My brother and I weren’t ones to talk sense into her since I had been doing drugs myself earlier and my brother continued to do them for many years before he finally got clean.
Lisa only had momentary stints of sobriety, but she was never really able to conquer her addiction problems. She put my aunt through a lot of stress and drama, and for that I had a difficult time with just even loving her, let alone being nice to her. And for years it was like that, but just a couple months ago, I went out to Alabama with my brother to see Susie. She had just gone through five rounds of chemotherapy. Believe it or not, she had been in Stage 4 cancer, so we planned a trip out there thinking it might be the last time we would get to see her, but days before our plans, we learned that her cancer went into complete remission! It would now be a celebration visit. We also learned that Lisa had been sober – for the most part – for the last nine months because she was pregnant with a baby boy. Susie didn’t want to tell me that she was staying with her at the house because she thought I wouldn’t want to come and stay there because Lisa would be in the same house, but under the circumstances, I didn’t mind at all. But that goes to show you just how much I have been mad at my cousin.
Truly, I have been mad at her because I love her, and because I love my aunt. The last thing I wanted was for Lisa to cause Susie any more stress than she already had been going through now that she had cancer. Not only that, but Susie adopted one of Lisa’s children, Damon, now 10, who has Autism. She has been raising Damon and giving him a loving upbringing, not to mention stellar care through the best schools and programs available to him. She totally stepped up when Lisa couldn’t and wouldn’t, and he’s a great kid – incredibly bright.
So, when I got there, to my surprise, I found that Lisa and her husband had been helping Susan out with doctor appointments, meals, rides, picking up her medicine, helping her up and down the stairs, and just being there for her totally while she was getting her treatments the entire time. I spent a lot of time with Lisa and got to know her all over again and learned that I had been misjudging her, that avoiding her was only making it easier for me to “dislike” her. The less I knew her, the easier it was to stay mad, but almost instantly, it was very easy to see what a sweetheart she really was, and such a good soul. There was just no denying it. How could I not love this person? She was the kind of person that would literally give you the clothes off her back if you needed them before herself.
About a week after we got back home, she had little Samuel, and she seemed to be so happy, but, almost six weeks after that, and just a few days before Christmas, she died.
She was just 40 years old.
This all hit me harder than I expected. It was something none of us should have been surprised about though, as we always thought about this. We all thought this could happen one day with her. For years it’s been on our minds, yet, all of us felt complete shock. How? I don’t know, but we did. Maybe it was the baby. Maybe it was the fact that she was doing so well and it felt different this time. Maybe we all secretly thought it wouldn’t really happen. That only happens to other addicts in other people’s families.
So, I guess you can say, I haven’t been in real good shape lately. I haven’t much felt like writing in my blog, or posting on G+ or Facebook, painting or socializing, talking on the phone, or doing much of anything other than going to therapy. I’m just now getting used to my med change, so that’s some good news – knock on teak.
However, Michael went out of town the first week of January, so I buried myself in finishing the drawing book (Carol Es une Monographie de Lignes) while he was gone. It’s done! I’m just waiting for two things: for Michael to write the foreword, and, I have to save a few bucks for the offset printing. I may do a small Kickstarter or a hatchfund.
Last night I met with my critique group, which I don’t think I have ever mentioned on my blog before. Have I? No. I haven’t. First of all, I do not like to call it a critique group because it is much, much more than that. Second of all, we actually had more like a year-end/new year party last night, not a typical meeting.
So last night is really the second time I have socialized at all whatsoever in almost a month. The first time was Monday when I had Rochelle Botello over. Last night was interesting. I still feel like I’m in a fog, or a dream. I’ve been pretty disassociated. Things seem unreal to me. It can be scary. It wasn’t so scary when Rochelle came over. She is a pretty close friend and I didn’t have to drive anywhere, plus we didn’t leave my house. We just stayed here and talked and had coffee. Perfect for me. Last night was a potluck kinda thing. But I suppose I should explain the group a little bit?
Artists’ Matters. That’s what it’s called. It’s headed by Ellie Blankfort and Peter Clothier. Besides that, there are eight to 10 of us, but not usually at any one given time. I’d say eight is the most that show up at once. I’ve been in for about a year now and I’m one of the newer members. Some have been in for 15+ years. We meet once a month from 7:00-10:00 p.m. and talk about everything from what has been going on in the studio, to personal issues, to business and process techniques, to doing critiques on member’s artworks. We are known to do certain book assignments and talk about various articles, get into heated debates, visit each other’s studios, and last night in particular, we were given these little 4×4 inch canvases to do whatever we wanted to do on them, plus talk about our intentions and goals for 2014. Anyway, we spent so much time on dinner and telling stories that we kinda had to rush through the little canvases and didn’t much get around to talking about our intentions for the year, but it sure was fun to see what everybody made on their 4x4s, as Ellie started to call them.
Today I am actually going to paint, that is, if I ever get done with this blog post.