Gosh…here I go!
This is a blog post that’s been in my head for two years now. I’ve written it in my head, expressed it all. I run through the sentiments almost daily. I’ve never, ever had the chance to peck it out. And even now, as I sit at my desk, late on a Sunday night, I’m not even sure I’ll actually post it. But, I figured it would do me well to at least try and get the words out. For me, I aim to blog authentically about my work, what inspires me, my process, etc. I’ve been blogging and creating art for my gallery in Grayton Beach FL that I opened over 7 years ago! That’s a pretty good stretch of time for a business, for an artist, for an art gallery.
Two years ago…I put down my paintbrush to drive my husband to the hospital. He was barfing up a storm. I had just opened The Shard Shop in Destin, another Mary Hong Gallery in Nashville, and another Shard Shop in Nola…all in a two month span.
Yet, there I was…in the ER with my husband. Stage 4 stomach cancer. The doctor told me he was very sorry. Told me to get John to a major cancer center. All my dreams came to a crashing halt. I could barely cope. I had just invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in business expansion. And now, I would become a caregiver. I quit my job as an art teacher at my children’s school. I hunkered down. My employees stepped it up and took on more tasks to help me out. But after a time, they too, fell apart from overworking themselves.
Then, I fell apart. I didn’t care if I lost everything. I wanted desperately for my husband to heal so we could go back to our old, wonderful life. I spent almost all my time taking care of my family. I cared for him and our kids. I drove my kids everywhere, John everywhere. He’s had many surgeries, chemo weekly for years, immuno drug trials, radiation, diet restrictions, tubes and more tubes. His care became yet another full time job.
I have no idea how people cope that have real jobs. His job as an airline pilot turned into immediate medical retirement. (OK…I’m digressing) What I’m getting at is this…I’ve barely been the artist that I wanted to be. I have barely squeaked out all my commission work. I have barely been able to return emails or participate in anything related to gallery ownership. I’ve cancelled art shows, Facebook live events, client meetings, etc. I’ve had customers not happy with me. I’ve even been somewhat threatened by people who think they can bully me into responding to them! Really!!! Bully all you want. I am one woman. I pray for peace in my day. I pray my kids see me all day every day as their rock. They deserve that.
It’s been two years. I’ve never let it out on a blog post. Instead, I journal on caringbridge.org letting family and friends know what’s going on with our family. All along, I know the end will come for John. I would be in the middle of a large commission and I’d think..ohhh please do not die now. If you die, I can’t finish this, and then where will I be? He’s still here! But, he’s nearing the end of his life. I’m attaching two pictures..one of a very dark studio; a place that used to bring me a lot of joy. The other is John and our kids last week.
Reflect upon the wisdom of Dr Leo Buscaglia who said; “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Please, if you know of someone struggling then reach out to them. They may or may not accept your ‘help’, ‘suggestions’, ‘guidance’…etc., but they will appreciate your ears and that you cared. Thank you all for hanging in there with me and for supporting me as an artist. I believe it is my art career (read: my God given talents,) that will ultimately save me from the despair I’m going through.