I am thrilled to show you a book I illustrated for Klutz, a division of Scholastic. As described in their about section, Klutz creates award-winning, premium activity books for kids and kid-minded adults.
A long time ago, 11 months ago…or was it eleven years ago…or eleven days ago? As Einstein said, “Time is an illusion.”
Back to what I was saying.
11 months ago I had one of my paintings posted as my facebook header. The quote I had painted said:
“Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale.”
-Hans Christian Andersen
The day after my husband died someone who loved me innocently and lovingly commented, “I am so sorry your fairytale ended this way.”
And the comment literally struck my heart as if an arrow had pierced my chest. My stomach sank as I realized once again how my life had been placed upside down.
It reminded me of when I was a little kid and I would lay on the bed with half of my body hanging off looking at the room upside down. I would imagine what it would be like if my room really were upside down. How would I sit in a chair? Will I now be tripping over the ceiling fan every time I run for the phone? It was odd, intriguing, and very uncomfortable--especially towards the end when all the blood went rushing to my head.
That’s what this felt like.
My world was upside down and the blood was rushing to my head.
But I could never straighten it out.
I am still in the same world, the same house, the same room…but even after 11 months I will be caught in a moment where I realize I live in all of this upside down.
When I look back on the beginning it still mystifies me how I understood and knew things that perhaps normal people don’t.
On the car ride home after he died I knew God was going to use me. I knew that this painful, horrible thing was going to be a source of light and demonstration of His love. And it made me sick because the love of my life was worth more than that to me.
I knew when I read the comment that my fairytale was over that it wasn’t. While it made me sob to think that it WAS over, I knew with an almost angry and passionate feeling that it was indeed NOT over. This was merely the halfway point in my fairytale.
Because I am a heroine and this is my story.
I entered into this world on my own and that is how I will end it. All of these people in my life have entered at different points and as such they will exit it. They are the characters that teach me. However brief or lengthy, however minute or profound...
You are all teaching me.
You are all blessing me.
But this journey is mine.
This fairytale is mine. I might not get to write this story, but I damn well get to choose how I react to what happens to me.
This is my story.
And this is what I choose for mine:
My story is full of magic, fantastical beings, and wondrous sights.
I will be kind, courageous, and determined.
I will use my knowledge to help others.
I will use magic to my advantage; to all our advantage.
I will give up who I was in order to become what I was meant to be.
I will be true to myself and listen to my heart.
I will feel and see the power of love again and again.
I will have hope, feel gratitude, and exude joy despite hardships.
I will always have faith that this story will end more beautifully than I could have ever imagined.
Here is the truth about fairytales:
You have your own fairytale.
Your fairytale doesn’t end when someone you love dies or when something ends.
In fact, when someone you love dies your life becomes more magical because they are busy doing things in their invisible cloaks like making feathers rain from the sky and sending butterflies to sit in your hair. Your life is now magnified in blessings because someone you love is making sure you can’t argue it.
If something in your life ends, I promise you something far better or something just as beautiful will take its place. It will not be the same, but it will still be just as precious, worthy, and beautiful.
Heck, your fairytale doesn’t even end when you die.
Because if you are like me you believe that our souls are everlasting and there is no end.
The completion of this life opens the door to heaven.
So there really is such thing as happily ever after.
Don’t ever forget that you are the heroine (or hero) of your story. No matter what happens to you, this is not the end.
Our fairytale in not over.
Today I found myself telling my friend I can time travel.
As a kid (and even now) I have loved any book or movie based on it. I love the idea of time not having to be linear. For as much as I like rules and to follow them, when I disagree with them--I love to the bend them.
Just when you think you have me figured out I will surprise you with my complexities. This is one of them.
As for my new found supernatural ability....
A few months ago I was driving down the freeway and passed the hospital that I had first taken Matt to on the four day process of him dying. And while other times I silently cursed that lone building or simply did my best to ignore it, that day it was different.
While I was driving next to it, I was also inside.
I was in there.
He was in there.
In some other dimension our two scenarios were side by side, coexisting.
Waiting on test results, staring out the window watching the day slip by, feeding him ice water from a q-tip looking stick with a tiny pink sponge on the end.
I was scared.
Because he was sicker than I had ever imagined and the doctors were puzzled.
Nobody had any answers.
In that 3 second spans of me whizzing past that building I was transported in time and into that stretch of a day.
I can walk into a frozen yogurt place that just cleaned with bleach and want to gag. It sends me silently in my head whirling back to when the nurse walked me back into his hospital room that was permeated with the harsh, cutting smell of it. It makes me look at myself standing above him, rubbing his arm, telling him the reasons why he has to stay…and not knowing whether or not I should tell her he will never open his eyes again.
I spent a lot of those hours in the hospital awake. By his side. In a place where time is of the essence, but all there is to do is wait. I had no patience for reading and nothing was more important than sitting by his side smiling and being his comforter. I was doing my best to be a light of blinding love. Unintentionally, one night I stared at that box full of latex gloves more intently than perhaps anyone has.
I went to the doctor's a month after he passed and the sight of that box of gloves made my teeth start to literally chatter.
So now it is clear to me that the gift I had always fantasized of having is something I can actually do now.
I can time travel.
Sometimes I wish I couldn’t.
This must be what happens when your emotions are stirred. When your senses are shocked. When your life is changed.
The experience rouses your senses and magnifies them, thus making it impossible to forget.
The images do not fade.
The sounds do not muffle.
The smell does not dissipate.
The feeling of his scared hand in your scared hand cannot be forgotten.
And while I know that in time I will learn how to refocus this gift to positive things, sometimes it sends me back to the saddest and scariest days of my life.
This month has been my best yet. I think I am finally getting better at stopping the time travel. When I feel the mind buzzing, force pulling sensations I slowly talk myself down from its vortex.
I hear my sweet angels telling me:
Let it go.
Do not travel here.
Travel to that time you played that corny love song and forced him to slow dance with you in the backyard. Feel his hands around your waist. Feel his scruffy face against your cheek. Feel your hair flying from your neck as he twirls you and you can’t figure out how to twist back so you both end up laughing at your clumsiness. See the glittering stars, his sparkling eyes (albeit rolling eyes). Hear his voice, the hollow sounding music coming from your cell phone speaker, and your children laughing as they ride their noisy tricycles around you. Feel the safety of his arms and the kiss that was lovely but one of many like a field of flowers—so easily dismissed because there were so many, but treasured now as a single flower for its striking beauty.
Feel your heart’s content at the comfort of knowing this love is endless.
Know that it still is.
And as I settle back into Now I have a pile of tissues, but I am thankful because I have more of those kinds of memories to time travel to than ones that include bleach and beeping medical instruments.
These memories have warm sand beneath my feet, pink sunsets, the vibration of music being created by freckled hands I love, and the sound of our babies laughing. These memories are full of so much love they could warm the earth. Surely they could sustain me the rest of my days here--though I know our God is generous and there will never be a need for that.
But how lovely to know.
I am arriving upon the point in my journey where I can choose where I will go in time. When I do travel back to scary or sad times, it will be a choice and I will be visiting to learn something.
When I stop and step back I realize how amazing it is I can do this.
How magical it can be.
I am thankful God gave me eyes to see, hands to feel, ears to hear, and a heart that delights. More than that, for those moments. Most of all, for a timeless, transcendent love.
Because of this,
I can time travel.
This was written 6 weeks prior to the posting date. Writing this was so incredibly healing for me that almost immediately I was able to control my "time traveling." Sometimes I do not even know how I am feeling until I begin to write and the mere act of doing so awakens me in some new aspect.
Thank you for going on this journey with me.
I am a watercolor artist located in Southern California.