I drew my mother for the first time when I was in art school, and didn’t draw her again until she had her first, then second stroke, and became like a child to me. Nothing prepares you.
When my mother passed, I was lost. I did not know how to survive but I started to paint, madly, and write, always. I pulled the despair out of me and onto paper.
I painted my pain, then angels, and then my mother began to nudge me, telling me it was time to paint her. I looked for her in the wedding photos that were taken when she was just nineteen. I found her in the hours, days and weeks that I spent looking into her face, her eyes.
Beloved mother, you never leave my side. Your beautiful, gnarled, arthritic feet rest in my lap, and I am home. You lie in the shadows of me, keeping me from harm.
Photo of my mother, Zalakha, with my daughter, Natasha, in the summer of 2010, before the first stroke.