This painting has been a long time in the making. Not the actual painting, but the mulling over and contemplation part. It began two years ago when my great dane passed away.
About a month later on a road trip, a song came up in my playlist which moved me to tears. My Dear Old Friend by Patty Griffin. Since then, I have studiously avoided the song despite its haunting beauty, because it reminds me of Simone and the sweet pooch that she was. But a recent trip to Charlotte, the song popped up in my music and I let it play. Earlier this summer, my other long-time companion, a scrappy, ornery dog, also passed away. And I thought I was over his death - until the song played. The tears came again.
During my stay in Charlotte, I shared a sorrowful moment with my own dear friend who recently lost her faithful companion of fifteen years. And then another friend shared her loss of a pooch. And then another. On Facebook and in person....caring, compassionate folks who suffered the recent loss of their beloved dog. The universe was nudging the theme of this painting rather loudly.
There isn't anything we can say to each other to heal the loss. Time, a listening ear, a big hug. These things help. I think it's important to share our grief if we can. To tell stories of our little (and big) furry loves and to let the warmth of their incredible loving and loyal spirits become a part of who we are. And though I've painted each of my dogs, I wanted a piece to capture the loss as well. There is something about the loss of a pet - maybe it's the fact we could never use our words to tell them how we felt; the entire relationship consisting of sounds and body language without words. Perhaps we wonder if they knew how much they were adored. Or if we were forgiven for the time we got irritated and short-tempered. Or if they understood why we took them on that final visit to the vet.
I'm not saying the loss of a dog (or any pet) is like losing a person. But perhaps, in this small way, it is harder. Because the sum total of our communication was without the nuances of words in sentences, letters, emails, texts, voice-mails and videos. It all boiled down to the tone of our voice, the touch of our hands, the meeting of eyes. We wonder afterward, was it enough?
So this piece of art is born of the stories of those who have lost a dear one, the enduring spirits of the ones who've moved on, and one incredible song that, for me, brings it all together and helps me let it go.
Listen to "My Dear Old Friend" as sung by Patty Griffin and performed by Dance Dynamics below.