You know that scene near the end of "The Family Man" with Nicholas Cage... where his daughter rings the bell on her bike and he asks her what is she doing? She doesn't know that the bell is actually a signal that everything that really matters to him now, is about to change. He then goes to his wife and tells her to remember him just the way he is right now. That scene always gives me cold chills. This year it played over and over in my mind because we learned just after Thanksgiving, that my husband's lymphoma had returned. (Tom is a 16 year non-hodgkins stage 4 cancer survivor!) Suddenly, every normal, customary, mundane part of our family routine, became, singular and exceptional in my mind. I wanted to record every moment with a camera, but then again, I wanted to enjoy every moment without interruption. Chemotherapy, as I all too clearly remember, would surely change his mood, his energy level, his personality. It would rob him of his appetite, his physical strength, and it would rob us of our relationship transforming us from husband and wife to more patient and caregiver. Every Christmas song or ornament or tradition reminded me of a moment with Tom from our many Christmases together. Every day in this waiting game has also been a lesson that there are no guarantees. It was all I could do to focus on anything else other than what lies ahead for Tom's treatment and how might I best prepare our family for impact. Today, we drove to MD Anderson. The weather was cold and dreary which seemed fitting for a consultation with his doctor to discuss the return of his lymphoma. Tom pointed out where the best place would be to park when I would be driving him. I made note of the elevator's location into the building and then tried to remember the maze of hallways and waiting areas, fountains and more elevators, escalators and the long skybridge leading to where he would be seen. When we made it into the room and met a doctor with all the paperwork and results, he began to go over their findings and finally into their treatment plan. There would be weekly visits for him to be treated with Rituxin. And then maintenance Rituxin treatments every two years ... (I was at the edge of my seat waiting...) I finally just asked if the chemotherapy would begin after the Rituxin treatment. But he explained, "No. The lymph nodes were enlarged but not to a degree where chemo would be necessary." And even though his report from the scan mentioned a diagnosis of non-hodgkins lymphoma... we learned it is actually only hodgkins lymphoma we are dealing with which has a very good success rate for remission. (Happy tears began to flow at this point while I searched purse for tissues - Tom smiling at the mess I was.) So even though we have been through a very long and winding roller coaster waiting game this holiday season that most people weren't even aware we were on, we are now thrilled to say, Tom will not have to go through chemotherapy. He will not have to take a leave of absence from his job. I will not have to watch the chemo drip into his veins this time. I waited until we were finally in an elevator alone and practically knocked him over grasping his arms squealing, "I-can't-believe-it-this-is-so-fantastic-I'm-so-happy-for-you-and-I'm-so-happy-for-me-this-is-incredible-can-you-believe-it!!!" So let me officially end this waiting game by saying, may God be praised! To God be the glory! I am so grateful for His mercy!
Yesterday was mother's day. I always think about the other women out there who suffer through infertility. I went through that many years before I was finally blessed with my three children. (That's another great story.) My husband and I waited so long before knowing the excitement of even just "expecting." And when we finally felt that expectation of not one, but twins due, I had a miscarriage weeks later. And then it happened again, and again... In the midst of that painful time, I wrote a poem to help me put the loss into words. I shared it with my mother. Now and then she would ask me to say it again for her and would say how much she loved those words. She used to tell me that when she does go to Heaven, she'll get to meet all those grandchildren waiting for her. I like to imagine her, and my father now, there with their arms full of all those children who never had a birthday here. Today, in honor of missing my own mother yesterday, I'm going to post those words and hope that they will help others out there who came so close to celebrating Mother's day as a parent yesterday.
I love that my art allows me to see so many sweet children - from all over. Many of them return for new silhouettes annually! After all, children change so much those first years and all through school. One of my regular customers was kind enough to send me photographs of her daughter's silhouettes that we have done so far. I also do silhouettes by email!She gives them each year as a Father's Day gift. I thought it would be fun to post them so people could see an example of one child's profile as it progresses over seven years (and counting). I've done hers in person each year until just this past month - sadly, the shop I where I usually see her closed. (By the way - I'm on the hunt for a new shop near Charlotte, NC who might like to have a silhouette artist visit once or twice a year.) We did this year's silhouette by email. I do silhouettes in person by visiting shops or meeting people in my studio or coming to playgroups...But
A Silhouette ArtistVisiting a silhouette artist is really fun! A silhouette artist is a person who cuts out the shape of your profile from a special piece of paper. It is black on one side and white on the other. The artist folds the paper before cutting. After the cutting is complete, the customer will have two silhouettes to take home right away. A left and a right one. This is customary so that you'll have one to keep and one to give away. The subject (child or adult or pet) sits across from the artist and using hand eye coordination (no drawing or tracing), the artist looks at the white side of the paper and imagines the same face on that blank paper. The artist carefully cuts the shape of their profile. *HINT: (This actually happens.) Don't accidentally tell your kids they are going to visit an artist who will "cut their face out." Let's say instead, "The artist will make a portrait of your shadow." (Way less scary!)
The subjectWhether it's a baby, toddler, squirmy child or teen or an anxious adult, the subject does not have to be as still as a statue. The artist only needs the occasional glance of just the right pose. This is literally, the "stress-free" portrait! It is a unique, dying art form and there are only a dozen or so of us in the United States. This method involves no drawing or tracing. It originated in France in the late 18th century. Silhouettes were the snapshot before the camera came along! People used to visit a silhouette artist when they wanted to give their lover an image to bring along on their next voyage.
In this day and age, we expect instant gratification.How many things in art, can you watch created before your eyes from start to finish in such a short time - and the likeness you see from such a simple black "blob" of a paper, is amazing! Visit my Frequently Asked Questions Page for More info. And remember, if you can't make it to an event, I do silhouettes by email!
Last night I did silhouettes at a party complete with Gladiators, girls in togas and even a “live" gold statue! I did head and shoulder cameos of the guests but as the evening was wrapping up, I did full figure silhouettes live of a father in Gladiator costume and his daughter who had just arrived. Won’t this be fun hanging on the wall at home.