So far I’ve only been able to find one picture that shows it whole. Kind of ironic that it’s a picture of my mom being goofy.
While I was going through Mom’s apartment after her suicide I came across a rolled up canvas bundle held together by rubber bands. I had absolutely zero clue what I was about to unroll.
I don’t know where to begin, describing how I felt when I unrolled that bundle. It was a Sunday and Matthew was at work so I was there by myself. I was getting pretty accustomed to having the wind knocked out of me unexpectedly as I went through all of this, but this moment was particularly intense.
I was – am – grateful to have them; grateful they hadn’t been destroyed or lost, that I’d have the opportunity to make something of them, to put them back together. Seeing them like that, though, after so many years of that portrait being a fixture in my home life – the unravelling canvas, the headless torso of my father – it was like a physical symbol of the trauma and separation that had marked my parents’ relationship, and mine with them, for so, so many years. It was like having a terrible wound, being fully aware of it, but suddenly looking directly at it for the first time.
I knew that I had to have something done with it – something worthy. To have her put back together. It was something I would never have been able to do for her in life, as much as she wanted me to, but at least I could do it in symbol.
I took them to a local artshop known for their expert framing. It was pricey and it took a while but they did an amazing job. The piece is now hanging in our guest room, which lately has also begun a transformation into doubling as my magick room. I loved the idea of having a sacred space dedicated to her in that room, and so it was perfect that the portrait fits so well over the mantel, which I’ve now made into a Mom Altar.
I do imagine her making some snarky joke about me putting up an altar now that she’s dead when I rarely took her advice while she was alive. In response I’d tell her that while her advice to other people was frequently very wise, her advice to me had a history of being … unhelpful. And anyway, I don’t have an altar because I’m in any way worshipping her – this isn’t an ancestor worship thing. It’s a reognition of how very, very much she shaped – is still shaping – the person I became/am becoming, in ways good, bad and complicated.
And it’s a recognition of how much she loved me, even when she wasn’t able to express it properly. No matter where her spirit is now, her love will always be a part of my soul.