Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Artistic Result of a Family Trauma

My mother and my aunt were very close growing up. I often compare their relationship to the relationship between my sister and me. Even though we fought as kids and teens, we remained best friends. She has been there to support me through thick and thin and has loved and forgiven me even when I hurt her. I have turned to her for advice and could always count on her for an honest opinion. I love her dearly and would not be able to function well without her sometimes. This is how my mother and aunt were. Close. Loving. Best friends.

My aunt developed pancreatic cancer about eight years ago. It was growing and spreading to other parts of her body... quickly. Surgery was the only option to save her life. Doctors and hospital staff worked efficiently to schedule an emergency surgery. All of our family flew in to support her. I went to support my mother.

The problem with her having surgery is that she was a Jehovah's Witness. Because of her beliefs, she refused to take blood products during any medical procedure. Everyone else was worried she would lose so much blood during the surgery that it would cost her her life. I was worried that my mother would fall apart if my aunt didn't survive.

We all sat in the waiting room for hours (me, my mother, my uncles and aunts, and cousins). She was a beautiful person and loved by so many. While we waited, some family members chewed fingernails to the quick, some ate or drank coffee obsessively, some talked and joked around to ease the tension while others held each other and cried. I drew.

My aunt survived that surgery but passed away 15 months later due to a stroke and complications with cancer. This sketch represents an outpouring of love and support for my aunt and for my mother.

Where would any of us be without emotional outlets like this?