Painted in Pastels

God, what an emotional morning. An emotional morning that followed an emotional night.

Last night, I invited my former sculpture and pottery instructor to come to my house for a visit. She and her partner accepted my invitation, arriving at my house around eight. They brought wine and compassion and ears willing to listen to me mourn. I issued my invitation after I already had more wine than I should have had. But without the wine, I would not have been so brash; I would have spent the evening alone, aching for company. So, I am glad I indulged myself in a wine solo. My friend and her partner (I consider her my friend, too) were willing listeners and partners in my grief, lubricated with pinot noir. They drove more than half an hour, each way, to give me solace. I suspect they had better things to do on a Saturday night than to visit with a teary geezer; I so appreciate their kindness in giving their time to me, instead. I must send them words of appreciation; they undoubtedly do not read this blog, so this off-the-cuff paragraph won’t do.

This morning’s emotion arose from watching and listening to the church service recorded yesterday and days before, stitched together by a dedicated team of volunteers. I started watching and listening to today’s service a little before six this morning. Usually, I consume the recorded services in bits and pieces, but this morning I watched it from start to finish without a pause. The presentation by the woman who introduced the service was especially moving. Not only were the words she spoke quite powerful, the way she delivered them seemed directed entirely at me, as if we were alone in a room and she was offering her comfort and compassion specifically to me. When she finished, I felt like I wanted to reach into the screen and  hug her.

After the introduction and the music and so forth, an excellent video remembrance—with photographs of people the church has lost over the years—was shown. It was moving, too. I was touched by the images of friends who are no longer here. And the photographs of my wife brought me to tears. I am so grateful to the people who put in so much effort to produce the remembrance. The minister’s words, too, were powerful and helped deepen the meaning of the recollection.


It’s now just after seven, two hours since I fought my way from under the covers. When I woke up, I felt like I was bound to the bed; the top sheet had somehow wrapped around my legs, lashing me to the bed as if I had been tied down.

The sky has shed darkness in favor of light. I did not notice it happening, in that the video sermon/presentation commanded my full attention. I didn’t notice the light even when I went into the kitchen, where I made my second cup of coffee and peeled a clementine for phase one of breakfast. My mind was too focused on recalling the video to pay attention to the sky’s metamorphosis.


There’s so much more I want to write, but I think I need to give myself some time to simply experience coffee and silence, instead. Maybe I’ll play Words with Friends if anyone has played with me since last night. And maybe I’ll invite my sister-in-law to come over for our more or less routine morning chat. And maybe I’ll write thank-you notes to people who have been, and continue to be, so kind to me. Emotions do not necessarily evoke tears. Sometimes, emotions paint smiles.

My thoughts this morning seem to be lighter than usual, as if they were painted in pastels.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Painted in Pastels

  1. robin andrea says:

    I loved reading this, John. It sounds like your were surrounded by love and truly expressed from your heart the comfort of that. This is the best of being human. Beautiful in every way.

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