In the midst of tragedy, we flock to the sides of people who need us to, we resolve, help them. And then we arrive.
My friend lost her brother last December. I visited her and her family during these private moments of trying to cope with the unexpected passing of a brother, a son, an athlete, a boy just short of turning 16. And, at least when I arrived, I felt grossly under-qualified to truly help. You want to be there, but really be there, although in a society capable of limitless innovations, it feels like it’s all been said over the transfer of a tissue.
When I ran out of tissues and words, I asked if there was anything I could paint for them. My friend’s father pulled up a photograph of his son’s hand resting on his.
My friend, an exceptional violinist, performed a recital dedicated to her little brother a few months later. This was music at its emotional core. This reminded me why art matters because of what it can do for the person creating the work and for the people receiving it.
That same night, I revealed the finished painting to her family. Art may not replace the grieving process, but I will never forget their expressions when I turned this painting around. It brought tears to my eyes, as well, knowing that there is no shortage of ways we can connect with others, but when we find the one that’s true to us, it is a gift worth giving.