When we lose a loved one, we believe their scent, their touch, their voice, and their laugh are burned into our memory, our soul. However, as time goes on, it becomes more difficult to remember those little nuances about the person you held so dear. I’m grateful to have a video that I took of Emily for a college scholarship application, which not only shows her with her favorite pieces but where she also talks about her love of art and all the mediums she used. She starts the video with the above quote. I play it often when the sound of her voice begins to fade in my mind.
As we approach our event this coming weekend to showcase Emily’s art, it occurs to me that even in death, she is brightening the world through her passion for art. We center our efforts around her art, not only because she was talented and prolific, but also to help people realize the lost human potential in just one overdose death. I cannot imagine how Emily’s craft would have evolved and her artwork grown in depth and detail, had she lived. Today people are more likely to die of an overdose, than in a car crash. Most overdose deaths are young people. In each one of these premature deaths, the world has lost so much of what could have been.
I take comfort in keeping Emily’s memory alive through her art, but also in using it to increase awareness of fentanyl poisoning and to raise funds to help others get into recovery before they suffer the same fate. This is a true bright spot in the bleak world of drug addiction. Emily’s passion now lives on through me, in our efforts to stop the stigma and give hope to those who need it the most. Never could I have imagined the moments I would live through, nor where those moments would take me. Here I am, about to display my daughter’s art, knowing that it will make a huge difference in so many lives and for their families.
I am honored by those who have come beside me in this journey. Just last week, I received the following poem about Emily from a local poet who offered up his services for our silent auction. Shane Fischer, the owner of Ink Knell, says, “A life remembered is a life fulfilled.” When I read Shane’s poem, I couldn’t stop crying. He captured so much of my daughter’s spirit in his words. The line toward the end of the poem, For Emily, reads, “The kind artist continues to brighten the world.” I find some solace in that truth and the fact that the best of her carries on through those who knew and loved her and the artwork she left behind.
One of Emily’s dear friends, since middle school, Jenae Porter, also was a gymnast and aspiring artist. Jenae has now graduated from college and works as a painter and muralist.
She is living out the dream that was dashed for Emily. She also suffered a loss as Emily’s addiction took hold and she pulled away from her friends and family. Jenae also struggles with the finality of Emily’s untimely death. Jenae is helping to organize our Emily’s Hope Art Show & Auction. Jenae’s essence includes little reminders of Emily and being around her is both comforting and bittersweet. Jenae has donated a beautiful painting for our live auction. In her artist statement she wrote:
As a friend of Emily’s, seeing her work all presented in one room is both fulfilling and agonizing. I was with her when much of her work was being made. I watched her hate it, change it, add to it, laugh about it. It is all still charged with her strong energy. She always knew how to laugh everything off, and always reiterated to me to not take life too seriously. It was infuriating to me as an anxious teen, but is the one thing that now sticks with me the most. So this painting was made in her memory, an image of my hands holding on to what I have left to remember, and an homage to the incredible hands she had. Both of our hands were given a natural gift. Purple was chosen for its symbolism of spirituality, creativity, mystery, and magic–which sums up Emily pretty well.
Jenae didn’t know it, but purple is also the color representing overdose awareness. It’s also my favorite color. Emily’s energy is within each one of her unique creations and her energy will never die.
Faith, Hope & Courage,