The world is filled with stories we can’t quite deal with emotionally and physically (time or space). Not being able to have an immediate say or impact (to help or make change) can leave one feeling quite overwhelmed. At those times I feel like I need to say a prayer or two and place the problem in God’s hands.

Anymore this is how I feel about my news feed on Facebook. There is an overabundance of news stories and world events that I can’t change, issues out of my hands. It could be something political, a post on animal cruelty or even social commentary. Whatever it is somehow it is not just one article but a multitude of them from a variety of sources. This leaves me with a sense of not being able to escape from something when what I really want is to forget it exists for just a few minutes as I try to check in with friends.

While this seems to be something that is just going to happen from here on out, this past spring there was one story in particular that hit a few chords in my heart. My feed was inundated with post upon post about a terminally ill baby who I had no personal ties to and the doctors who wanted to take him off of life support.

Even when I wanted to tune out from the case I found my feed being inundated with opinion after opinion. The stories and the attached opinions ranged from how horrible the doctors were to how the parents needed a reality check. The case was an ocean away and there was nothing I could do to change any of what was happening. So I did what little I could do, say a prayer for the baby and his parents before placing the issue in God’s hands.

After spending several weeks reading story after story about this case I thought long and hard on something one of my mom’s closest friends told me over ten years ago.

About a week or two before my mom’s friend, Miss V, passed away in 2005 we had all gone to Luray Caverns to visit the town and have a nice day out with her. Miss V had not been feeling very well for some time and received some bad news on medical tests she had taken. All in all she was a little bit scared and we were worried for her. We wanted to provide her with a really good day and a lot of positive thinking. What Miss V provided me in return gave me a lot of things to think about in the years to come.

We talked a little bit about God, life, and the things that lie in-between. The piece of advice that sticks out most in my mind about that day was about loving and letting go. At one point in Miss V’s life there was a dearly loved family member with a terminal illness who was seeking permission to reside in God’s hands.

Miss V told me that her relative said something like this:

Baby I know you love me. I know you are scared of where I am going next in my journey but in this matter we have to trust that God knows best. I am placing my life in his hands so I need you to do me the biggest favor anyone could ever do. I need you to tell me that you love me and that you will miss me, but that you are ready to let me walk away from all this pain and be at peace with God.”

Miss V shared this story not to scare me, and certainly not to make me cry, but rather to let me know there’s a point in our lives where we are going to lose all of our loved ones. That all those whom we grew up idolizing and held so dear are most likely going to leave this earth before we do. What we need to do is work on letting go. That it is important, nee imperative to hold onto their memory but to let go of our loved ones when their pain and suffering is too much. In the end we need to trust in God that he knows best as to when it’s time for each of us to leave this world.

As a human being it is in our very nature to hold on to life, to fight for it and to keep fighting. It is who we are and an integral part of our genetic composition. But as creatures who believe in a higher being we have to trust that this higher being really does know when it is out time to depart the earth. Does that mean we just blindly walk through life hoping that this higher being will do all the work? Nope. What it does mean is having some faith.

Faith that when our loved ones are hurting and in pain that we trust that this “higher being” will take away that pain. There is a trust that we need to have that we will each receive release from this mortal coil, when we need it, and receive everlasting peace.

Now is that an easy thing to do? No, that is not easy. Most of us want to kick and fight and scream not just for ourselves but for our loved ones as well. We want them to live with us forever but life isn’t built that way.

When Miss V shared this bit of advice with me it was because she knew how much I love my mom and how tight I was holding on. She also knew that losing my mom would hurt more than anything has ever hurt in my entire life. Miss V wanted to spare me all the pain and hurt but knew she never really could. Instead of trying to erase the inevitable pain, she thought she could plant a seed to grow inside of me. That this seed would grow so that when the time came, perhaps I would be a little more prepared and ready for all of the pain that would come.

Miss V wanted also wanted me to realize that giving our loved ones permission to move on also lets them come to terms with their mortality and the need to move on. Sometimes our loved ones remain as long as they do because they worry about the living they are leaving behind. Giving them permission to move on can give them a sense of closure and release they didn’t know they needed. Miss V was hoping that by imparting this advice I would come to terms with the inevitability of loss and give my mom permission to move on. Will I know when that time is? I don’t know.

As I watch my mom’s health decline a little more here and there, I don’t know if I am the best judge of when is enough truly enough. Will I recognize that my mom is only a shell of the person that she once was?  I truly do not know.

I appreciate the conversation with Miss V and her attempt to get me to a point where I could say “Mom I love you and it’s okay. I will miss you but it is time for you to be with everyone who has departed from us. It is time for you to walk with God.” I hope that when the time comes I will be able to love my mom and let her go.

As for the family with the little boy, my heart is heavy with sadness over their struggle and loss. They had to face something no parent should have to go through.

I don’t think it is easy for any parent to make a final decision like that about their child. It is a parent’s duty to fight and keep fighting for their child. No parent ever wants there to be a situation in which they have to say to their child “I love you and I will miss you forever but it is time for you to walk with God”

No I don’t think any parent should have to say that.

My heart goes out to this family. I am sorry their battle and pain was made so public. It hurt reading about the family, the child’s fatal illness, the court battle… and all of the details. The least I could do was say a prayer and to place my hope for the family in God’s hands.

I am an artist…. Right? The question of whether one thought of him/herself as an artist was asked of every art major completing their senior thesis. At least that is what happened the year I was a senior. All of the seniors sat in a circle with the professors interspersed so it was more of a round table discussion instead of a drilling session. The professors wanted us to feel more like their equals as they asked questions about our senior theses : artist to artist.

When it was my turn to answer that question I remember my reply gave everyone pause. If I was not the first one to answer I knew I had to be second. How unsure I was of the statement that I was an artist came out. Did receiving a college degree truly make me an artist? Was someone without a degree therefore not an artist?

After all the art history classes I knew what art was. That there was a difference between high art (legitimate art) and hobby or craft art. So I begged the question if what made me an artist. No one  n n had a real answer fir me, neither teacher nor student. The moment of contemplation past when another student boldly proclaimed that she was indeed an artist but she never backed up how she knew.

At that time I wasn’t sure that I really was an artist I mean at least not an artist like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. I might have felt like an artist but not one of that caliber. Since graduating, I have not gone on to make and sell lots of pieces of artwork. The bulk of my productivity has been that of a crafter, a hobbyist, or a mixed media/textile artist. Ten years ago none of that was considered to be on par with painting or sculpting. I was not a consistent creator of high end art.

I have been a seamstress and an artist with thread. Even for my senior thesis I created mixed media art. My entire senior thesis was based on painting clouds on fabric that I then turned into quilts utilizing both hand sewing and machine sewing techniques. The title of my senior art show was cumulus.

Ten plus years later I still don’t think I am a da Vinci or a Michelangelo but I am an artist. I say all this to then come back to the present. This morning as I was trying to do some finishing touches on the underside of a bunk board for one of my nephews.

I had shown both my nephews several types of clouds that I painted in the past that are displayed in paintings and quilts around my house. Then I showed them a picture of some Toy Story clouds someone painted for their child, never once referencing the movie. I wanted them to tell which type of clouds they wanted painted on the bunk board.

And what would you think they picked?

Yep you’re right they picked the Toy Story clouds.

And so I sat there wondering as I was making a stencil, to then make “perfect” Toy Story clouds, what would da Vinci or Michelangelo be thinking to themselves if they were asked to do something similar for a child that they loved? Would they be muttering to themselves “I painted the Mona Lisa” or “I painted the Sistine Chapel” and “but now I am reduced to stenciled clouds”. That train of thought made me smile.

Yes, I have an art degree (actually art/art history and business) and I have been reduced to making a cloud stencil to paint perfect clouds on a bunk board. That is my life and I’m happy with that.

I could have a kind of a weird outlook on it and be very upset but I’m not. Truth is the kids see my clouds that I paint displayed all around the house. The kids don’t need more of my clouds. They need their own.

I still enjoyed thinking back to that discussion, remembering how my insecurities of that time left even the professors in silence, and having a good chuckle over how I was at that moment painting stenciled clouds.