Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Danette, Unveiled

The pastel that I introduced last post is now finished. Here it is:

"Danette, Unveiled"
Pastel on Wallis, 16" x 22"

This is a painting of a friend, Danette, the first time that I saw her without a scarf (or security blanket, as she calls it!) on her head. A few months ago she finished chemo therapy and I have been happy to see her back to her bubbly, outgoing self!

It all started in the Spring of 2005, when Danette experienced a miscarriage. No one knew at the time, however, that what she was experiencing was not in fact a miscarriage but rather a symptom of
Gestational Trophoblastic Cancer. Over the summer she became ill, and by the fall she was going in and out of the hospital, a couple of times in critical condition, and having surgeries. She was finally diagnosed while her husband was on an emergency trip to Texas where his father lay dying. Within a month Danette's own father was diagnosed with cancer, they had to relocate her mother-in-law to KS, and they experienced an accident which totaled their car.

The stress on Danette's family must have been incredible; she and her husband, Victor, work together as a youth pastor team at a local church and have five (count them, five!) children whom they homeschool. They also have no health insurance. But Danette stood as an example of Optimism and Hope. I would like to share a message that she sent out to our homeschool group in September of 2005 (unedited):

Hi everyone. i wanted to take a moment and tell you how overwhelmed i am with the kindness i have received from you all. I have been so blessed by the meals, the flowers and cards, phone calls and visits, and help with my kids, including co-op this fall. You all are a blessing from God to me, and I have said many prayers, and sent out many thoughts of blessings to you all.

as an update, i've been home since thursday, but have to return to the hospital this monday pm through wed. afternoon for more chemo treatment. I am also seeing a naturopathic doctor (who is working alongside my chemo doctor) who is giving me high vitamin treatment and herbal support, so I feel confident that it will help assist my body in the process.

i know we are a non-religious based group, but i wanted to share with you that i feel totally at peace with my dis-ease. the minute i got the diagnoses, i felt this overwhelming peace and total absence of fear. it's like my inner self knew somehow. I believe in Divine timing and guidance, and I feel that this experience is needed by my soul for my own growth. It has been like a huge spiritual crash-course for me, as I have spent time in the hospital reading from numerous spiritual sources, meditating, receiving reiki and prayers in many forms, and just had time to think. I am understanding things at a deep-heart level, that I never truly understood before. I tell you all this because as you are sending your many postive thoughts and prayers (in whatever form--positive energy is being sent), I and my family are soaking it up. I also wanted you to not feel worry or fear or sadness for me. I'm not some spiritual guru or anything---none of my peace comes from me--but i wanted to let you know that despite the difficulties, i am okay---at peace, knowing all is well, and in Divine Order.

you all have just been such a beautiful gift to me and my family, and i wanted to share a little of what is going on in my soul. I hope to be back with you soon. my body is still weak, so i'm not getting out much, but i hope to be back at co-op and other events as soon as i am

blessings and positive thoughts from me to all of you. talk to you soon! love, danette

Needless to say, I have been inspired by Danette. Actually, I was completely inspired by her entire family before any of this happened: she and Victor share work at church and at home equally and both participate in the schooling of and have great relationships with their children, who are amazing; they love each other, are helpful, intelligent and mature. They are all very affectionate both towards family and friends and seem to bring cheer wherever they go. As a family they have made me think about how I ought to treat those close to me and to face the world with a positive outlook. The past year has shown me how an optimistic, strong, loving family can weather huge difficulties.

This painting is meant to embody the spirit of Optimism and Hope that I see in Danette and her family, and also as simply a gift between friends, a congratulations of sorts. I hope that she sees something in the painting that reminds her, in a positive way, of her journey this past year.

As I was nearing completion of this painting, I got word from Danette that she had some 'disturbing test results' and may be having a recurrence of her cancer. I sincerely hope that this is not the case and that her body is as healed and well as she appears to be! I just have to keep telling myself to think positive thoughts.