Chapter 1

My step-mother left us after going into coma for the second time. When the doctors assured us there was no hope, we agreed to take her off of the respiratory machine. I still feel guilty. I started an artist’s book about her loss but I couldn’t finish it. Losing a loved one is being awash by the long and painful process of grieving.

I set this project aside since there were structural problems and I couldn’t face her death yet. I portray her floating in gauze as if she was till in a coma. I chose to make a collage with  an old black and white image of her looking straight at the photographer. She was in her twenties, smiling. She looked so alive!

For more than a year we have been witnessing the ravages of Covid19. Like me, many families have had to make difficult choices often times without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. I know their pain, even after several years I still feel it from time to time.

What shape, vessel or space could house the deceased departure and the grief of a bereaved person? The last breath is the point of rupture so it will inform the shape while inside its form a second vessel will hold the grieving heart. For once, I am not using my photographs but two poems to express my vision of death and grief.

Gesshu Soko (1696): Jisei (death poem)

Inhale, exhale
Forward, back
Living, dying:
Arrows, let flown each to each
Meet midway and slice
The void in aimless flight —
Thus I return to the source
 

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1950): Ebb

I know what my heart is like
Since your love died:
It is like a hollow ledge
Holding a little pool
Left there by the tide,
A little tepid pool,
Drying inward from the edge.
 

What material will I use? How to represent the act of exhaling? How to include these two poems in the structure so they both come together? What texture or lettering am I going to choose? So many questions that are slowly finding their answers as I am making prototypes. 

To be continued ….