art therapy

FILLING THE VOID, or "Who Should We Call To Ask" Day Two June16

Continued from June 15 2016


365 days of drawings and letters to my wife in her current incarnation, became a monument to the past. And there it sits, behind me. Some days I look back through those drawings and all I see is one immutable truth. Gone is gone, never coming back is always now.


NEVER is a short word with a long afterlife. I spent the last year worrying about that word. In fact it was plaguing me. It is slowly occurring to me I will never see my beautiful love again, never hear her voice, never take another dip together in the ocean, never sit across the table and laugh, never hold her hand, never see eye to eye, never be able to answer her questions, never nothing, no more, and that’s impossible to consider. I never thought that would happen…but it did. I would very much like to change that "never" into "sometime in the future but we just can’t say when”.


Now the drawings plague me as well, dark and lonely: a woman evaporating into thin air: another diving off the edge of a cliff: someone floating out of reach: me carrying her across a river of tears.


But nothing gets in my way of making them. I wouldn’t say they ease the pain, but they do reach down and remind me: we are capable of a great depth of feeling, dive only if you dare.

A page of thumbnails, the culled drawings here

Followed by an interpretation of some of the more important ones




A few months after she took the exit, I got a big pile of pictures off the shelf and sat myself down on the couch. I told myself stories about them. I told anyone who was brave enough to sit down with me and look at the photographs, I told them the stories too. Now I can’t stop talking. Seems like once you get started there’s and endless stream of stories one behind the other, all queued up waving their hands saying “me next me next, tell me!”


I’m pretty sure not too many people are really listening to me tell these stories. At least not with both ears, they’re not. I’m pretty sure there’s a whole bunch of people I’ve subjected to the telling and retelling of these stories, who whisper to their significant other…“can’t she just get on with this?”

The ones that can tolerate it, well they feel the impact of ‘never’ too. They feel the room fill with a thick sadness. They feel the humidity building from eyes that can’t stop raining. They feel the edges of this new reality still fragile and fluttering in the wind.  The ones that get it they say I should let the river flow, don’t try and stop it. They say it’s the river that’s going to make us all feel better about that door.




Dreams, according to many psychologists, hold a lot of very interesting information. Most of us have cut ourselves off from that information, but those of us who allow it, encourage it even, well we get a feast of food for thought. I have always taken enormous pride in the fecundity of my own dreaming and the colorful content they offered. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when my love and I first got together, I noticed my dreams were fewer and farther apart. She on the other hand woke up every morning with wealth of mysterious recurring images. The longer we were together the more this happened. After a while I actually accused her of dream thievery. Which in retrospect was an inexcusable accusation. The truth may be that I felt so at home in that relationship that I closed the curtain into parts of my unconscious I no longer felt compelled to explore. In retrospect, that was probably an error in judgment on my part. But I did it, and you just can’t go backwards and undo things like that.


Formonths after the door closed behind Elizabeth, I tried so hard to dream about her. The harder I tried the further away she felt. It was like trying to make a painting, with willfulness. It can’t be done. I can’t do it that way. A painting, like a dream, or like a love has to be invited in, surrendered to. A door has to open, and wind sweeps in, you get to dance with it and when the music stops, you’ve made your masterpiece for the moment.


But finally after several more months, I quieted just enough to allow a dream to arrive. It was a small dream, but so very welcome.

i saw the crest of a hill, a country path, a mist

a light coming through the mist

dispersing the soft energy of itself

and you, in silhouette standing there on the edge

against the light your shadow was tall and lean

and striking

at the very center of my being

as you always did ….  


FILLING THE VOID, or ''Who Should We Call To Ask?"

FILLING A VOID or Who Should We Call To Ask or Another Fact Of Art and Life

I have a wife. But I don’t know where she is. She was here one minute and then gone the next. They say it happens all the time. Disappearing acts. I don’t know who to call.

She used to say that all the time when we were having an argument or even just a lit up discussion. She would ask me one of a thousand difficult questions that she always seemed to pull out of her proverbial hat. They were questions that provoked me to silence. Then after a long pause and a lot of sighing and tapping of her feet, she would ask me if I was planning on answering her question anytime soon. And I would say, ‘’I just don’t know”. 

“You just don’t know what?” she would say, “You don’t know if you are going to answer or you don’t know the answer?”  This would get her good and testy. 

And I would say, “I just don’t know the answer right now.” Then I could feel the blood coursing through her like she was the grand canyon herself in springtime. She would stand up and she a was a big girl. She would stand up and puff her chest out, and she had a beautiful chest. She would stand up chest out, and plant her feet real firm on whatever ground there was to stand on. She would stand up and puff up her chest with her feet planted and her blue eyes narrowed. And she had the most mysterious blue eyes. Blue eyes scare Greeks. She knew that, but she had them and she couldn’t help it either. In fact she always said she was Greek in a past lifetime. Anyway… She would stand up and puff up her chest with her feet planted and her blue eyes narrowed and she would look down on me and at me know matter if I was above or below her. She would say “Well who do you think we should call to ask, then?” And with that she would try to make her exit from the room.  I always stopped her though and tried my best to muddle through and find the answer to her question. Usually the answer was buried so deep down I needed several heavy equipment operators to help me extract it. Sometimes I coughed it up. Sometimes, we both left the room mad as hatters.

The fact is though, from time to time, and often when you least expect it… people just walk out the door and just don’t come back. Don’t matter how many times you go open that door sticking your neck out looking right and left while your hand’s making a salute gesture over top your eyebrows. That one who walked out that door is nowhere to be seen. Now that I think of it, the truth is… it happens all the time. But this time it’s happened to me. This time it was my wife. And I was not even close, we were not even close to finishing that conversation. This time I amfairly certain it was Elizabeth who went and walked out that door, the door that people don’t seem to want to come back through. I keep going over to it, opening it and calling out at the top of my voice, “Hey wait, I think I can answer your question now! Hello hello!”

But this time, I have failed to get her to turn back around so we could have another go at it.

It’s been over a year now. I am starting to think it was not a dream but instead a very strange new reality. This new reality has provoked a pack of new behaviors I thought I had neatly tucked away.

During the course of the year I managed to cry a river that runs right through the middle of my house. I now need a small boat to navigate this vacant shell. I don’t know if I am going downstream or up. There have been so many waves rolling in and out, relentlessly and mercilessly tossing my boat, I am not sure in what direction I am headed.

And I keep going back to the door opening the door, looking up and down the road. I’m afraid the gators are going to catch on to the new water feature in my living room and take up residence. They do that around here.  

Anyway I have been very diligently trying to distract myself. It happened when I discovered that I was doing that thing they say widow’s do, ‘oh she’s just rattling around in that lonely old house”. 

So I have pulled my resources together: pens and pencils, paints and brushes, clarinets and pianos, and this typewriter. I have become obsessed with asking questions. I have filled a thousand notebooks with those questions. “That’s a fine turn of events” I hear myself mutter as I write. It was her who had all the questions and now she’s not uttering a word. Where exactly is she now that the tables have turned? “I am prepared now Elizabeth, prepared to answer you and prepared to ask you a million more questions.” I say this every morning but each time it is met with a bigger silence.

Another excellent form of distraction in this situation, is making pictures bubble up from your unconscious. Rarely are they pretty but hey, talk about a thousand words. Bump that up a factor of ten.

And my latest technique for distracting myself from the obvious, is the typewriter. It works a lot like the bubbling pictures, except I end up not having to breathe turpentine.

I suppose there’s a good reason people disappear. Just like I suppose we appear for a reason. Which is to say I have no clue. I will make the assumption though that both those statements are true. I will do it because it makes me feel better. I suppose I should be steadily trying to answer the questions: why we are here; and why, just when we get the hang of being here with someone who is our heart’s desire… we leave.

I’ve given all that up for the safety of just doing what makes me feel better. I gave it up because my head was getting good and sore from bashing it against a wall. 

The things that make me feel better are reaching into my trusty bag of tricks to host a coming out party for whatever’s stirring up my interior. This is an artist thing. This is why they say artist’s are tortured souls. They say it because, (don’t tell anybody this) but it’s true!

We are not usually too forthcoming about who it is exactly that’s torturing us. We like to say it’s our wife or our mother or our friend, but ultimately the truth gets told. That’s the unfortunate part of making art. You can’t really hide behind it. It’s a big screen reality TV show that just pops out of you without warning.