Art Meets Life

Phoenix Rising. Beyond Breast Cancer.

They say grief doesn’t get smaller but that you get larger if you allow the vessel of your life to grow larger around it. It’s been five years since I lost my husband and my breast to cancer. In this time, I’ve learned that “larger” takes on forms one might not imagine at the point of loss.

Dazed survival mode
on the shores of grief,
building sandcastles
out of ashes.
I didn’t know
I was sitting in ashes.
Ashes make poor sandcastles.

I wanted to have a phoenix tattooed on my mastectomy side. My breast surgeon advised I wait a few years because I opted out of radiation/chemo to treat what may have been left behind in the skin tissue (my margins weren’t clean). Having lost Ray just months before, I couldn’t imagine going through the combination of chemo and grief with a successful outcome. A holistic approach sustained my fragile will to live while my body cleaned house.

As I go into her, she pierces my heart. When I have reached her center, I am weeping openly. I have known her all my life, yet she reveals stories to me, and these stories are revelations and I am transformed. ~ Susan Griffin

Creating this piece of art was the next best thing to a tattoo … maybe even better than best.

Phoenix Rising © Bernadette Rose Smith

I am calling her “Phoenix Rising.” She speaks to our capacity for rising up and embracing new flight patterns when our personal landscape shifts under the weight of loss.

I love how magical and nurturing the creation process was for this. Pure joy and discovery. (Very different from the emotional terrain that attended “Stitched and Stretched,” my first piece for breast cancer.) This phoenix pierced my heart and reached my center. We wept together for the unfolding story of a gravity-defying, somewhat rebellious crone who intends to nurture and share as many adventures and experiences of the heart as she can – with as many loved ones as she can – before skidding over the finish line where she’ll rendezvous with her beloved.

There’s a little bit of this mystical bird in each of us, I think. How we move through loss, and its many layers of grief, is our own unique journey. There are no set timetables, no fixed rules – only choices and discoveries that enlarge our capacity for taking life in on a level deeper than we knew possible. If we show up a little each day as best we can, what we need will find its way to us. After all, we are the stuff of stars … and feathers. Spread those wings, dEAr hEArts. ❤ Much Love, Bernadette

Phoenix Rising
12 x 16
Acrylic Gel Press Collage on Gallery-wrapped Canvas
Papers used for this collage were printed by me.

Fine art prints available soon.
The original? She will remain with me for a while longer.
Contact me if interested in ordering a print.

Remember, SHaRiNG is CaRiNG. If you found something here that inspired you, you may know someone else who will feel the same. Please share and subscribe to this blog, or follow me on Facebook!

2 thoughts on “Phoenix Rising. Beyond Breast Cancer.”

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