the quality or state of being strong, in particular: the emotional or mental qualities necessary in dealing with situations or events that are distressing or difficult
Strength is from the Stroke of Emotions Series I created in 2017.
In this image I am celebrating life. Trees and birds are powerful symbols for me. I believe trees represent growth and strength, with roots to ground us in our traditions. I see birds in flight as symbols of freedom, with the power of dreams and life renewed.
Strength means different things to different people.
Someone once told me I had a tragic life, and I was surprised to hear them say that. I never thought about my life that way.
But I have dealt with some tragic things.
When I was sixteen, my beloved brother died after several years of fighting brain cancer. He was just 32 and the father of three children under the age of five.
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 18, and fought a good fight for three years. She died when I was 21.
When my mother was admitted to the hospital for palliative care, my father suffered a major stroke and was admitted to the same hospital. The two people who kept our family together were gone, and my siblings and I were not strong enough to keep ourselves together.
My father was told he would never walk again. He proved the doctors wrong, and was released from the hospital one year later to lead an independent life for 17 years. He died when I was 37. He will always remain a role model of strength for me.
My only sister was diagnosed with lung cancer just five years later and died within 90 days. I will never forget her quiet grace and acceptance when she was told there was nothing more that could be done and she said she would like to go home for her remaining days.
When I was 49, I faced my worst fear when I heard the words "you have breast cancer". Surgery, radiation treatments, and hope kept me going.
But the most difficult thing for me to deal with was when John had a stroke in June 2017. Powerless, and unable to control anything that happened, I found it the most challenging thing that I had ever faced.
Our story is not over. Our story is not a perfect happily ever after ending. Our story is about struggling through adversity and finding hope.
I still feel lost and afraid at times, and I probably always will. But I am learning that sharing is one of the most important tools in healing.
I hope that sharing our story will help someone, somewhere, sometime.
And if that happens, then everything that we have experienced will be worthwhile.
About Stroke of Emotions:
In an effort to deal with my worry and feelings of helplessness after my husband had a major stroke in 2017, I turned to my hobby of photography. I took self portraits and created composited images using my photographic library to help define and illustrate my feelings. From devastation through rejuvenation, it is a story of a healing journey that I hope will help others going through a difficult time.
The complete story of Stroke of Emotions is available in book format. To view and/or purchase online click on this link.
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