Glitter-covered mud

I woke up this morning to a message on my iPhone. Thérèse had lost her fight with cancer during the night, and was finally free of her pain. I went to get my coffee in a numb fog, remembering vaguely her friendly smile and endless, soggy kisses on Sunday mornings. I felt ashamed. I hadn’t gone to see her at the hospital, and her friendly warmth would not descend upon me in its quirky, almost overbearing way next week at church.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 11.48.17 AMTwo hours later my phone beeped again, but this time it was a friend who’s brother-in-law had been found dead in his apartment. I was seated at a table bedecked with Christmas decorations, women chatting and laughing all around me, but I felt suddenly as in a vortex of gaiety, while others sat quietly in pain.

I turned the key, shrugging off my woollen wrap as I walked into my office just an hour after that, the reality of my own life strikingly present as I scrolled the 2015 calendar of events at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. I needed to write an email to the organiser about which opera I wanted to attend, which event would most interest my readers. The gorgeous theatre and A-list program flashed across the screen in stark contrast to the rainy mud outside; glitz and glitter sprinkled over so much pain.

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 10.58.58 AM

I made my choice and sent the email, grateful for the connection and excited about the prospects, and yet…

Today I might rather be Charlotte Salomon than Poppea, singing a mournful song as I paint stories that are all too real.


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