watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | quickie bouquet

I think love survives death. I think it is such a powerful force that the ending of a human life cannot extinguish it. I believe love between humans transcends the death of the body. That’s how powerful it is. That’s how transcendent it is. That bond is transmuted into a force that glues our molecules together and that keeps us afloat in this treacherous, beautiful journey on this earth.

That is the power of life. The sacred miracle. John Lennon got it right.

8″ x 8″ ink, watercolor, acrylic on paper = $85

 

 

 

watercolor of apples by emily weil

daily painting | holly’s apples

I splashed some paint around yesterday with our artists’ group, Brushes by the Bay. We meet, paint and discuss our work every week, and provide support and encouragement to each other. Holly brought these nice apples for subject matter. 

That I could function at any level was encouraging, for I am grieving my brother who died several days ago after a long, 16-month journey with brain cancer. I am happy for him that he’s done and I’m heartbroken. For a couple of days I felt him near. I felt his love for me. I think he’s looking after me (I told him before he died that he’d better).

It’s kind of like being on hallucinogens, intense grief. How can it be that I lost all my siblings in less than three years? What? I looked at a to-do list I’d written and I might as well have been watching ants crawl across a piece of white paper. Concentrating on anything is useless. Everything is upside down. I’m trying to remember how to do basic household chores; simple tasks confuse me. I’m disoriented. My ears are ringing. I’m nauseous. I suppose I wouldn’t be so shattered had we not loved each other so much. So maybe I’ll focus on that. The miracle of that.

I sound like I am feeling sorry for myself. Please forgive me. I think it’s more like shock. But self-pity works too.

I think I’ll go lie down.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

watercolor, ink painting of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | march sunflower

Recently I had an email conversation with a very dear old friend. He offered prayers of support to me as I “help my brother transition.” What a liberating concept! I have the western idea of the sad, painful, long road of sickness that ends in death (and then there is heaven or hell, in Christian traditions). To see this as my brother’s journey from his current state into another is rebooting my brain and adding some bright sparkles to my thinking.

Because I believe it’s true, about death being a kind of passage. I think he’ll go join my sisters and it will be good and joyful. And I’ve already asked him to look after me (I call on Kay and Diana for assistance, often). His death will be wrenching and difficult and it will be a great loss, especially since Jim and I have become close these past months. But I know I will be happy too, for his release. And I will see him again.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor, acrylic on paper = $90

 

 

 

abstract by emily weil using pastels, watercolor and ink

daily painting | tempest

I think mourning doves have the prettiest colors. Did you know that they have turquoise eyeliner all around their eyes? I learned that because of the suction-cup birdfeeder on my kitchen window they visited, where I could take a close look (which I had to stop supplying with seeds as the pigeons were clutching onto my window screen, ruining it). I suppose it makes sense I’m fond of a pretty, taupe-colored bird with mourning in its name these days. But don’t get my neighbor started on this species as she hates it when they nest on her front porch; I saw a photo of a dove that had built its nest in the windshield-wiper well of a Honda.

I’ve been pondering the powerful forces of grief and loss (well, duh). Life-changing, for most folks. And no one is exempt from this experience. We are reshaped by deaths and painful losses — for some into despair and bitterness and rage and for others into growth and clarity and greater strength. This fascinates me, how we develop and evolve both as humans and as a country. I want more than anything for the deaths and losses in my life to make me stronger and more resilient. And kinder. And more compassionate. And less encumbered by childhood pain. Losing my sibs has upset my apple cart forcefully, affecting everything. Everything. Last night I couldn’t sleep and was mentally acknowledging various shipwrecks in my life — in my family, in my relationships — and visualized climbing into the lifeboat, rowing away, finding solid land. I can’t imagine feeling dry and safe again, but I suppose I will.
[Did this abstract in my kitchen today.]

9″ x 12″ ink, watercolor, pastel on paper = $140

 

 

 

watercolor painting of magnolia bud by emily weil

daily painting | magnolia bud

Lucky me to have time with my dear friend Claire, visiting from WA! We visited my brother and afterward we headed over to Uncle Fuzzy’s yard in Mill Valley to enjoy some Chardonnay and chat. Claire and I (90% Claire, 10% Emily) looked after our old friend as he was dying of cancer two years ago, and the house is still in probate and not yet up for sale so I pulled my camping chairs out of the back of the car and we watched the woodpeckers and crows in the nearby trees and reminisced. During those months in 2020 Claire and I sat in the yard many times, sipping wine and laughing and shoring each other up while Russ (his given name) napped, as we loved him and he was soon leaving. So in Russ’s back yard is a gorgeous blooming magnolia, and this bud was just peeping out and getting ready to pop. 

I feel immersed in death and dying, and that sounds darker than I feel. Death is a fascinating part of life, and yes I will be shattered after my much-loved brother leaves the planet a few months from now. You get up in these years and loss is a part of the landscape. As one writer opined in an NPR interview, once you get past 60 you constantly carry a 100-lb sack of grief on your shoulder, as loved ones grow old and die. Yes, exactly. And there’s a magnificent beauty to that natural unfolding of things, though our hearts break daily. And this is a part of life, and how glorious to fully live, which is my response in the midst of all this. I want to live as largely as is humanly possible until I, too, get ready to leave the earth. I want to skid into that moment, waving my freak flag and laughing and rollicking with irreverence and giddy with joy at having been given this amazing gift of life.

7″ x 10″ ink, watercolor on paper

 

 

 

daily painting | diana

Diana Elizabeth Weil Randrup, my older sister, took her own life yesterday, Friday, May 7, a week short of her 76th birthday. She used a gun. I have no more sisters, now. Diana was burdened by mental illness and anxiety and suffered a great deal throughout her life. She leaves behind two grown children, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. She lived in Crescent City, CA. Her daughter and granddaughter had tried to convince her to use more peaceful means, but she had long collected guns and threatened suicide. She was finally successful. Her adult granddaughter, who lived with her, had to endure the shock of finding her body.

This lovely drawing was created by Diana, who had deep oceans of artistic talent. It was a wedding gift to my daughter. 

She was exquisitely talented. I tried to convince her to draw and paint more, but could not. She wrote hilarious send-ups of visits from mom that she shared with select family members. She did beautiful drawings and yarn creations. 

And she was broken. 

In her last few years she refused all contact with anyone outside of her daughter and grandkids who were in the same town; she became agoraphobic and stopped driving. She was paralyzed by terrors and panic attacks. I would send her occasional notes and cards, knowing she would read them even if she didn’t respond. A few years ago, I wrote her a note that may have been more heartfelt than others (I don’t remember) but I about fell over when she wrote me back! I was thrilled that she reached out — very unlike her. After I read the card I tucked it inside my bra so it would be close to my heart and kept it there all day, crying with gratitude. I hadn’t seen her in 20 years, as she refused all family contact. 

This began a correspondence that lasted about a year, which thrilled me. We would exchange political views and anti-Trump rants, mostly. It was a point of connection, obsessing about politics, and we were both news junkies. Her granddaughter Karen told me she would put my cards on the mantle in the living room. I am so grateful to have had that thin thread of connection; she finally stopped writing, saying in her last card it was too stressful.

So, goodbye, Diana. I am enraged you put Karen in this position. And your daughter. You could’ve listened! We could have helped you have a more peaceful death. But you were in too much pain to think of anything but ending your misery. I get that, I do. I hope you are at peace now. We certainly are not.