On Letting Go


The concept of letting go has been in the forefront of my mind since this year began. Letting go is a process. It is likely to take place in stages rather than all at once. And it is up to us to allow or invite the process to work through us.

Doors to new experiences and discoveries can more easily open when we let go of expectations, ideas, or the replaying of our personal stories. We may find that our way of being in the world has been altered. Letting go is our way of releasing tightly held beliefs, goals, or even the hands of a loved one.

Years ago, I often visualized the letting go process based on my experiences sitting and meditating at the Esopus Creek, in Mt. Tremper, New York. I would envision myself laying in a narrow stream, holding onto a rock or log, trying to fight against the current. In doing so, all of the leaves, twigs, and debris being carried down the stream would build up against me. This added to my struggle as the increase in weight intensified my burden. But… By no longer fighting the current, I could float down the stream with ease, experiencing greater peace.

My Recent Experiences:
This year seems to be a year of letting go. On January 1st, I let go of my Dad, and the ability to ever hold his hand again. On January 8th, I watched my Mom slip away from life to join him. Throughout January, I let go of my goals and plans for the month to allow myself to begin the grieving process and be whatever I needed to be in each moment. In February, I let go of my creative expectations and embraced new ideas, changes in color palette, and a new approach to my paintings. In March, I had to let go of my parent’s belongings as I went through their home, packing their stuff to giveaway or donate. I shipped a small selection from New York to California and had to dig deep to let go when some of those things arrived damaged or destroyed.

All of this letting go, seems to be leading to new perspectives. And I must say, I am ready for these changes. I feel like I’m one of those spring blossoms about to burst open.

Now, in April, I have let go of the artwork I am accustomed to in order to create new artistic experiences. I plan to share much of this creative journey as it unfolds. In fact, since April 1st, I’ve been posting pieces of a new mini series on Instagram and on my Facebook artist page. I will also be sharing more, right here, in future blog-posts.

Managing Grief after Losing My Parents:
I am letting go of their physical presence in my life, but the rich memories, love, and growth that I experienced throughout the years remain very much alive within me. That’s what I will carry with me in each moment moving forward. I know that I am who I am because of their presence in my life.

Holding my Mom’s hand just hours before she died.

Holding my Mom’s hand just hours before she died.

So each day, I let go of holding onto them. I let go of any need to perpetuate the grief, instead allowing the ebb and flow of emotions as they arise. (They definitely arise!) And regardless of any grief I will experience over the coming weeks, months, and years, I want to let them be fully present in whatever realm their spirits now reside. In turn, I allow myself to move into a new world of experiences, with curiosity in how the empty spaces created by their vacancy will be filled. I openly invite the changes that continue to take place.

Losing Both My Parents

My parents holding hands during one of my mom’s visits to my dad’s hospital room. The wonderful hospital staff helped make sure they visited one another every day.

My parents holding hands during one of my mom’s visits to my dad’s hospital room. The wonderful hospital staff helped make sure they visited one another every day.

Two months ago today, my dad died in a hospital room, at age 94. Exactly one week later my mom took her last breath in a similar room just a few rooms away. She would have celebrated her 90th birthday a few weeks later. After 70 years of marriage, they were still choosing to do everything together.

I’m finding that in order to move on and begin to share art related posts again on this blog, I have the need to first share this loss. The experience of watching both parents slip away was powerful and the loss is life altering. I can already see changes in the way I approach my paintings and my life. In recent weeks, I’ve needed time to hibernate and step back from “life as I knew it.” I’ve been taking one step at a time and easing myself back into the world. In writing this today, it is a step forward.

Helen and Ruby on their Wedding Day, 1949

Helen and Ruby on their Wedding Day, 1949

I was so very fortunate to have both parents in my life for so many years. I so appreciate the abundance of love and support I always received from them. Their enthusiastic response, anytime we shared details of new ventures, accomplishments, possibilities, and experiences, was a continuous gift to the whole family. They made it easy and joyful to share anything and everything with them.

And how they loved each other!! I believe they lived as long as they did because of their commitment to one another. And being in their presence, you just could not help but be drawn into the vortex of love and gratitude vibrantly operating between the two of them. It’s no wonder they seemed to have fans wherever they went… and of course, they always went together.

For years, my brother and I hoped that our parents would somehow be able to leave this world at the same time or shortly after one another. We knew it would be too painful for either of them to be left behind without the other. They orchestrated their exit pretty well. They were miraculously admitted to the hospital on the very same day, for different reasons. During their final days, they were surrounded by loved ones and managed to visit one another each day. When they were able, they held hands, blew each other kisses, and continued to touch the lives of those around them.

We witnessed and experienced a whole lot in those weeks, including many precious moments. I know I will miss them deeply, but I am so glad that neither of them has to continue life without the other. Their love story continues.

What a gift it has been to have had so many years with my loving parents and to have been a witness to their love and commitment to one another!

Mom and Dad doing what they loved most - sharing a meal with their family. 2016

Mom and Dad doing what they loved most - sharing a meal with their family. 2016