About ten days ago, a friend of Margaret’s passed away.  Cassie had been suffering from cancer, and had hidden it pretty well from everybody.  Her death shocked us.

I haven’t written a blog in a while, because I haven’t had anything to say.  I’ve been grieving, I suppose, and also unable to clear my head.  When somebody that close dies, it leaves you asking the most fundamental questions, with no answers falling from the sky.  In this state, I’ve been maintaining my normal routine- teaching classes, painting with models, hanging out with friends in their backyards, changing diapers.

This morning, Liam and I were walking back from church.  I was sad, my thoughts distracted, and Liam was happily babbling and chirping away.  Suddenly, we came across a bird on the road, a songbird that had, midflight, somehow fallen out of the sky.  It was dead, and I was relatively unmoved, and nudged Liam along to keep moving.  And Liam said, “No, no, no, no, the birdy, the birdy.”  His cries brought my attention to this beautiful bird.  How very unearthly this bird suddenly appeared, I suddenly could see it with the awe and wonder of Liam’s eyes.  It participated in something divine.  And then, Liam said “No birdy, no ground.  Fly, fly.”

I suddenly understood what Liam meant.  It was not supposed to be on the ground, something tragic had taken place.  It wasn’t supposed to die.  And Liam was right.  This beautiful bird was artwork in the highest form, and was never meant to be destroyed.  The artist had created, and something had stepped in and destroyed the work- but the artist never intended that.

And at that moment, I understood that we were never meant to die.  Cassie was not supposed to die, she was the work of God’s hands.  Somebody, something, has tainted this beautiful world.  There is no way that such beauty is created, simply to be destroyed.  And on the heels of that thought I understood eternity.  That the form passes, but the artist has made a plan for the essence to live on.

I grabbed a shovel from my garage, and Liam and I took the bird to our backyard and placed it under the holly tree.  And I knew that I had to draw this.  I thought of placing the bird on a white cloth, but then I realized that this bird did not die that way.  By drawing this bird on the shovel, I was some how imparting a dignity to the obscure things of this world.  I spent the next half hour drawing this, as Liam busied himself in the dirt nearby.  We buried the bird together.

People say that children don’t understand death, but I would maintain that they have a much clearer vision of it than any adult.  They understand that this is not how it was supposed to be.  Adults grow to accept, but adults never understand.  And today, I truly understood that we are eternal, we are immortal works of art.  The form wastes away, but the essence will live on, just as the artist intended.

The Bird, pencil on Amatruda paper, 8.5 x 11

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father… -Jesus, Matthew 10:29

For we are God’s masterpiece. -Paul, Ephesian 2:10

And this is what he promised us–even eternal life. – 1 John 2:25


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