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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Self Love in Death's Arms

  About six or eight years ago, I attended a life drawing studio. The model was thin, and thin isn't what I would normally view as beautiful, but she was graceful and delicate with a few curves of feminity and a great mane of dark hair. I got out one of the sketches I'd done of her, and I'd left out a lot, so a painting was going to take further construction. I began working shadows and lights, and found myself remembering.
 I got very thin last year, certainly not so much as this painting, but it was bad. I had cancer. It was anal squamous cell carcinoma. I'm ok now, infact a little overweight, but I remember the "me" of the time with much tenderness. Months spent in lieing there in pain that medicine couldn't touch, often losing conciousness at the pain, unable to move, and unable to eat. My daily goal was to drink a little water. In exhausted moments, and there were some where there was less pain, daydreaming of painting the memorized ceiling, and meditating to hold on to a degree of sanity, and the quiet that comes with surrender...the acceptance of the respit of death. The "it's going to be ok," I'll rest soon, and the watching of faces of loved ones, whom I didn't want to leave, but "knew" I would, the deepest love for them and compassion at their suffering, they were so beautiful. I had lived a wonderful life afterall, and I was grateful.... In retrospect, there was even a beauty in the fragile state of such horrid illness. Looking at the painting, is at once frightening and heart-rendering. I have the feeling of wanting to pick her up and tell her she'll be ok, that's it ok to let go, and that I love her.
   I underwent a major surgery, and did it really for the love of my family, so they'd know I cared enough for them to try, but I didn't expect it to work. I had nothing left to fight with. Months went by, and so slowly I was able to eat again, move without pain and far beyond my understanding, I'm alive.
   I had seen people die before, and I had attended their needs and comfort. I have held hands and cried with them, and I've seen the peace that comes before they go. I thought I was strong, but I had never been the one who was dieing, the one who went so far into and beyond pain to absolute serenity.
   This is not the first time I've seen the light at the end of the tunnel, and sure as death must come for all of us one day, it won't be my last. Until then, serenity remains, love abounds and I paint.
tina jones

"Emaciated Nude"
Acrylic on Canvas


  1. Very telling painting. The difference between decorative and fine art is the emotion.

  2. Tina,

    My first impression was Oh,disturbing, neglect, honest, pain, giving up, help me, death, open wounds, wounded beyond return. And finally Left for Dead. Then I came on here and read your posting on it. All I could do was weep as I read such a personal, painful journey you have been on. It also reminded me of those I have known who have had cancer and got the absolute complete healing by getting to go home to God, while others healed in body and carried on, never to forget what they have gone through and how they can touch others by it. Like a tool in our belt of life. This piece touches beyond the first glace and the reaction, it goes into the soul where the spirit lays within, screaming here me, see me, help me. I can't, I won't and surrender to I must. Just yesterday I heard from my sister who is 46 to learn she has cervical cancer yet one more trial she has to go through, her life has been a life of neglect, abuse and pain, only to get up and keep going, and now once more another hurdle. I pray she is strong enough to make it through. After reading this I know it is possiable if you want it bad enough to continue on this side of heaven. Thank you for sharing your spirit with us.


  3. I'm reading your responses, and I'm very moved. Know that there is a bit of "heaven" here and now. I see it every day, and it's right here in you. smiles. Thankyou!