Day 30. The ones we keep putting off

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“Waiting for Spring” 6×6, oil on canvas [creativ_button url=”×6-oil-canvas/” icon=”” label=”Buy Now” colour=”blue” colour_custom=”” size=”medium” edge=”straight” target=”_self”]

Yesterday as I was scrolling through my facebook feed, I came across a link to a post on a blog created by an artist who had been a student at the high school where I taught. So young and already she’s working seriously on her art, putting herself out there in a way I would never have been capable of in my 20s. As I read her blog post, I found myself wishing I had written it. “To the painting I still haven’t finished”– it’s worth a read.

As this 31 day challenge slowly comes to its end, Madi’s post reminded me that there is one painting I have been putting off, one I’ve been meaning to create, and one I’ve let myself ignore because it also represents a conversation I’m scared to have.

Today’s painting is a little warm-up to figure out the composition of the larger sunflower painting I’ve been meaning to create for months now- a wedding gift for a sweet couple who is now grieving a pregnancy loss, something I’m all too familiar with.

What do you say to someone whose pain scares you and awakens memories you thought you’d forgotten? The world is full of  “I’ve been there’s” or “I’m so sorry’s”–  I have found even the most sincerest of them impotent and unsubstantial.

After my first miscarriage and newly pregnant with twins considered “high risk” I met my mom in the parking lot of a department store for reasons I cannot remember. What I do remember is going into that department store and deciding I needed a “real” purse since the tiny ones I’d used all my adult life where no longer cutting it. I found one I liked- it came in a tan and a mustard color. Deciding between the two felt overwhelmingly impossible. My mom suggested the mustard one, urging me to remember to keep a “sunny” outlook in the midst of uncertainty. It’s all going to be okay, she said. Taking her advice, I bought the sunflower-colored purse.

It didn’t turn out okay. And it did. When I miscarried the twins, I hated the purse and my mom’s silly reason for choosing it. But the story obviously didn’t end there and eventually I let my mom’s little “everything will be okay” enter my mind not as something to throw stones at, but in the form of a mantra. That’s when I started painting the pelicans I thought of as harbingers of hope.

In the last month I’ve had two different people ask me if I knew of any resources for people grieving a miscarriage. The truth is I don’t. I just had my mom who very much knew my pain. I’ve known about the stillborn sister that came before me and both of my siblings for as long as I can remember. So her “it will be okay” was not some ridiculous cloak of optimism as much as it was reassurance that the current sadness would not be the end of my story, that grief is interwoven into a life that can still be beautiful.  

I wiped some tears from my face as I painted today. It’s easier to shove pain into dark corners where we don’t have to look at it. It’s easier not to take it out in public, into the sun, where it might cause a scene or draw unwanted attention.

It’s easier to leave some paintings unfinished and some words unsaid.

I think people who are grieving need others, at the very least, to say “I see you and I’m here.” And it’s time that I do just that.


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Picture of Denise Hopkins

Denise Hopkins

January 30, 2018

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3 Responses

  1. Oh man, Denise. I didn’t have a chance to read this yesterday. I’m tearing up now. I’ve kind of always pictured you as sunny. And now I see that you aren’t. You’re much more than that.

    When I first saw the painting and before I read the blog post, I thought, how do you do that? How do you makes those circular forms come alive for me? I’m not just talking about your painting techniques, though I mean that, too. I feel the world turning in your brush strokes. I feel joy and pain all comingled in an eternal dance. And isn’t that what life is? And you captured that here, brilliantly and hopefully and tragically.

    Thank you.

    1. I keep typing and then deleting “thank you”– because it’s not really the right phrase and I’m not sure what is. This is truly the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my art. I’ll just have to type it again– Thank you!

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