The prompt for this week’s Documented Life Project journal page was to write a secret message to yourself and cover it, leaving only a few words visible. I feel like such a broken record saying it, but this prompt couldn’t have come at a better time for me.
This week, I had to put down my beloved cat, Weetzie Elizabeth Bat. She was almost 16 years old. She had developed a collapsed lung, probably from undiagnosed feline asthma or a bronchial infection. I had raised her from a rescued kitten into a cantankerous old lady. And she had raised me, from a fresh out of college 21 year old to a 37 year old mother and wife. Over our 15 years together, we had lived in 3 states and 6 homes. She gained a cat companion, Said, who she hated, and my daughter, who she pleasantly tolerated. She will be missed.
It was a hard week, an emotional week. I felt (and still feel) a lot of grief and guilt in Weetzie’s passing. I know that she was elderly and it was her time, but it’s an intellectual knowing. In my heart, I am grieving the loss of a constant presence in my life. I’m also grieving the passing of an era, the time when I grew from a young woman into an adult with a real job and real responsibilities. It was a week I needed to write a message to myself.
For the secret message on the bottom page, I used a quote a close friend had posted on my Facebook, after learning of Weetzie’s passing:
“Sometimes you fall, spinning through space, grasping for the things that keep you on this earth. Sometimes you catch them. They can be the hands of the people you love. They can be your pets- pups with funny names, cats with ferocious old souls. The thing that keeps you here can be your art. It can be things you have collected and invested with a certain sense of meaning. A flowered, buckled treasure chest of secrets.” – Necklace of Kisses, Francesca Lia Block
(My friend knew that Weetzie was named after Block’s most famous character, Weetzie Bat. If you haven’t read the Dangerous Angel series, please do. They will not disappoint.)
When making the page with acrylics, I painted over most of the words, except grasping, hands, love, souls, flowers, secrets, kisses. I then wrote a new message, based on these remaining words:
“Our grasping hands seek love. Connection with other souls. Our hearts are flowered secrets. Blooming with kisses.”
I then tried my hand at a little collage and doodling, using scrap paper from my very old stash and doodling pens. I don’t know how happy I am with the doodling, since I don’t know if it’s my “style”. I don’t know if I have a style, so in trying new techniques, I am uncovering it.
My extension for this week is an envelope, so I enclosed in the envelope a PicMonkey altered picture of Weetzie from about 4 years ago. I covered the front of the envelope in the same scrap paper, with a cutout heart.
Once again, I’m grateful for this project and the ways it is helping me address the events in my daily life. In the past, I may have just grieved quickly and moved on to the next thing, because sometimes that’s what I have time for in my busy life. But art journaling through this week has given me a tangible way to express myself, to process, to remember and to hopefully move on.