The rain beat down on the motel parking lot, while street lamps above provided refuge from the inky darkness that had descended with the storm. My sixteen year old self stood, hugging my body against the chill, wishing for nothing more than to be swept away into oblivion. Fighting within, I longed for the quiet and peace of nonexistence, while a force inside urged me to fighting and breathe against the drowning sensation.
It was the night that would mark the end of six-month months of homelessness: of living on couches, in dark mountain cabins and the occasional dive motels. For those aching months I had lived with my possessions in a pillow case tucked under the seat of a van. Many days my sister and I tried to comfort our three younger brothers in the chaos that our lives had become, while we eyed our mother in the driver's seat, steering our lives further into oblivion.
She had left our father, and found many backs turned and many doors in her faith community shut to her as a result. It's a story that I still have not had the strength to write about in full. It has left deep scars. But during that time, even though our mother knew that the journey was breaking us, she spoke of the resiliency of the human spirit.
That word became a beacon for me. More than any god, or religion, that was what I began to invest my faith in: we were resilient.
It's a word that has become important for me once again, having now lost her. The loss of a loved one, in many ways, is irrevocable. We can never regain the presence of that loved one in our lives. And yet we heal, we grow, and we move on.
In thinking about that, I've been drawn to this idea of the Phoenix, and what we can create out of the ashes of pain and loss. So I wanted to try and make an image that spoke to the cyclical nature of loss and renewal.
Healing can a transformative process, and I am hoping to be able to honor the beauty that can rise from the ashes.
While creating this image, I originally tried to create the impression of wings with fabric. Unfortunately it simply didn't create that sense of movement and resonance that I was hoping for, so I ended up painting the wings instead.
(Model is the wonderful Jessalyn.)