You should notice that I said recovering, because I am still very much in the process. I like quiet but not this way. This is a paralyzing quiet. I don’t want to do anything. My zest for life is also quiet. It is also a dark quiet. I have much to do but not the will to do it.
This last Christmas Eve, when my wife of 53 years passed away, my ability to think clearly really took a hammering. My middle name should have been changed to confusion. I could not hold onto my thoughts. I thought that my disorientation would go away after a few months. It hasn’t, but it is better than it was. It’s been a slow process.
Because it’s who I am, I paint. I paint on many different levels and many different subjects. Some take a lot of energy; others are much easier and help me relax. I have not been all that patient with myself. I get angry at myself for how slowly paintings that are very important to me are progressing. Sometimes I can’t paint at all. At times, I fill this gap with writing as I am doing now in the hope that my words will help others who are going through similar life altering events.
Right now, the only thing that brings light into my life is when I’m teaching. When teaching, I jump into the reality of life and living. I find that when I am teaching as a volunteer in the corrections system, I find real purpose. I do this partly for them and partly for me. The gratitude I receive from the offenders is very real and honest and that makes me feel good, being able to bring a little life back into their lives.
Additionally, many of my pupils and friends at the Madison County Senior Center have helped me through this time. Many there have experienced what I have been going through and have been a great help to me. I really can’t thank them enough for their kindness and helpful advice. I listen to their wisdom very carefully. The senior center has been a great place to help me return to living again.
When my wife died, I did not want to live and I prayed that God would take me also. Like many others in a similar situation, I thought of suicide, but that simply was not an option for me. God gave me life and He is the only one who can take it. I do not have that right.
Did God desert me? Absolutely not. Instead, He sent special counselors into my life to help me through these times. During this time of grief, God is teaching me patience, something I have not had a lot of. I am being taught to slow myself down, have faith, and wait. This seems to include my paintings as well as everything else that has been going on in my life.
As I said, it’s been a slow process.
Harry Croghan is an artist, photographer, writer and teacher. He can be reached at 740-852-4906 or by e-mail at email@example.com.