As I worked, I began to notice more and more how much my brother and I had resembled each other. He took his own life in 1980, around this time of year. I think of him each day, usually with affection, not sadness. But, the longer I worked on the drawing, the more and more I noticed our similarities. So, I began to morph the drawing into more a drawing of him. He was a brilliant, beautiful boy who died too young, at the age of 24. I never felt one moment of anger. I understood. The sad, sad little boy never recovered from the traumas of our childhoods. He saw no other way out of his pain.
He has been dead now, longer than he lived. Such a strange thought. I wonder who he would be now, had he stuck around. Would he ever have found any peace in this life?
My drawing of the next day became increasingly sadder as I worked. We may describe someone who is depressed as having a "long face." So, I lengthened the face. A mourner might have features "contorted with grief." So, the eyes are out of alignment. The chin and nose "not right." Somehow, I made up this head wrap -- a turban? I'm not sure.
The longer I worked, the more deeply felt the grief became. I haven't mourned Raymond in years. I thought that was all done. Strange how feelings of long ago can be triggered so unexpectedly.
Apparently, this sketch provided the catharsis I needed. The next day, I dashed off the final sketch of the week.
I had arrived at almost the end of the day, then realized I hadn't done my daily drawing. Grabbed the iPad, looked in the mirror, and got to work. I think I spent about ten minutes, thus the sketchy quality. I do not see grief in this sketch. Perhaps concentration, perhaps some alertness.
I was glad to reach the end of the week. Self-portraits can be an opportunity for self-reflection. The drawings mirror mood. I did not expect an encounter with grief. But, I must have still been holding on to the pain, and it needed to come out. Which makes me wonder what the next unexpected trigger will be -- and to what pain?
Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted," His words so often counter-intuitive. "Weep with those who weep," wrote the Apostle Paul. John the Revelator wrote: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and these shall be no more death, neither sorrow, crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away." Words to ponder.