Updated: Jun 21, 2019
Painting is the best way I know how to show love. In any scenario, my first thought is always - “what can I paint for them?”. Whether it’s hearing that some dear friends are getting married, they are celebrating an incredible accomplishment or they are enduring the loss of a loved one - a painting always feels right for me. Painting is my way of speaking, my way of expressing great love, big feelings... big magic.
About a month ago, while sitting at work, one of my coworkers got a call notifying us that a friend and fellow employee had been taken to the hospital. Like anyone, that initial and unexpected news threw us off a bit. We all sat a bit puzzled as we tried to piece together the minimal information we had. I played my usual role and encouraged everyone to be positive and pray for the best. Little did we know that one month later we would all be sitting in the St. Boniface Church bidding our 26 year old beautiful, vibrant and selfless friend a final farewell.
The day of her passing was a bit of a waiting game. We unfortunately knew what was coming but two days prior had no idea of the severity. The shock hit everyone hard, especially when it was a young and healthy individual who you'd never expect to have such health problems. The day was a roller coaster of tears, silence, laughs and frustration.... always, just waiting. I took a few minutes to look through her Instagram - Taking a stroll through her many adventures, seeing all the beautiful places she was able to travel, seeing the love she had for her family, her fella and her friends. It was a joy filled Instagram page that celebrated the beauty of her life.
While scrolling through I happened upon a photo of her hiking through a golden field into a forest. I immediately stopped scrolling and just stared. Like all great art, it starts with that magical moment of inspiration that strikes your soul like a firework exploding. I knew right then, "this is it". This is her, peacefully heading off on her next journey. Her solo trek to the next life. I knew I had to paint it. She passed away peacefully later that day.
I woke the next day to begin a day in the studio feeling empty inside, drained, and emotionally detached. At that point I had no clue how I could even expect myself to paint. I sat at my easel and just felt nothing. The weight of the amount of work I had to get done for upcoming shows was sitting heavily on my mind but I just didn't have it in me to do anything. But just like that, something else took over - a force I can't quite explain. I placed a brand new canvas on my easel, I pulled up the photo that had struck me the day prior and I just started painting. It felt so mechanical as if another was working through me. It was easy, I didn't have to think about how to do anything, what step was next. I had been provided a special set of instructions that seemed to have already been engrained in me allowing my tired self to sit peacefully and watch it unfold. Within 5 hours, the painting went from a blank canvas to a completed memento of her next adventure.
I won't sit here and preach about my beliefs or tell anyone what does or doesn't exist - but I will say, for me this proves there is more to life than just us. A higher being flowed through me, allowed me to effortlessly channel feelings so much bigger than myself and what I was feeling into a work of art. To some it will just be a canvas with oil paint - but to those who knew her, it will hold the joy of her life, the vibrance of her personality, the kindness of her soul and the pain of all of us from losing such an amazing person too soon. That painting pulled me closer to her, gave me a connection with her that I will forever cherish.
Life is so very fragile. I think we all find ourselves saying that and know it to be true but it's not until moments like this that the reality of it truly comes to life. We realize that in the blink of an eye, anything and everything can change. It's always sad that it takes tragic events to open our eyes to such things but I hope to be a person that can not only think about these lessons in the moment, but choose to live by them. Live life to the fullest and love to the fullest for you never know what tomorrow might bring.
Following a very long day at the funeral service and just an emotional three weeks, I unfortunately had a big art event to attend of which I was going solo. Like all who were mourning, I had been crying all day and was emotionally drained -- getting dressed up and going to an event was the last thing I wanted to do. I sat in the car in the parking lot on the phone with my mom on the verge of tears once again, asking how I could get out of walking in. Once I finally hung up the phone, I summoned the courage and loudly asked myself.. "what would Marriah do?...... Show up.
Rest peacefully in rolling golden fields, and sunshine made of the purest joy there is. Thank you for leaving behind such love and living a life that inspired.