Journal Entry Feb 2020
Number 61 was our family home for most of my childhood. I shared this home with my parents and three sisters. My elder sisters moved out in time leaving just my sister and I. Our home was like most others during my formative years where love and laughter were shared in equal measure.
As my teenage years approached our family changed beyond recognition which subsequently changed the rest of our lives and the pathways we were to travel.
Love and laughter were replaced with suicide, domestic violence, abuse and murder, and at the tender age of 14 and 16, Heidi and I were orphaned.
We remained in our family home following the suicide of my father when I was 10 years old but the night my mother was murdered when I was aged 16 we never returned. Instead my three sisters and I endeavored to rebuild our lives and manage our grief and loss among the chaos that ensued. We each managed our struggles independent of each other, which has proven to be a successful coping mechanism and protective barrier for self preservation.
Most recently, my struggle to manage my own grief sent me on a journey back to the UK to reunite with my family following many many years apart. During our family reunion we collectively pursued a trip down memory lane back to number 61. Heidi and I left the comfort of the car and approached 61. Our lasting memories of 61 are incredibly dark and distressing and we were both eager to utilise this moment to self soothe. A gentleman opened the front door as we approached. What followed was an astounding exchange of compassion and humanity.
Deep rooted racial tension and discrimination is still prevalent in the North West of England today but Heidi and I showed up and were welcomed back into 61 to meet this gentlemen's beautiful Indian and Pakistani family. The family were aware there had been a violent death many years previously, we did not elaborate further only to say that this was our Mum and the night she died was the last time we were in this house. The magnitude of our visit was felt among us and the family cradled us in their embrace through our tears. We left 61 that day in absolute shock. The beautiful family had invited us back for lunch the following day.
HEIDI AND I WERE RETURNING TO OUR FAMILY HOME THAT WE WERE FORCED TO LEAVE 30 YEARS AGO!
We left the house, walked around the corner and turned to each other. We hugged, cried, laughed and were in complete shock and disbelief. We could not wait to share what had just happened with our sisters.
Heidi and I arrived for lunch the following day with offerings of thanks and photographs, of our family during our childhood at 61. We were welcomed into the family home and shown around all the rooms: our old rooms. Lunch was served in our old back room on the floor with a freshly laid table cloth with members of their extended family. Surreal is one of many words that sprung to mind as we enjoyed a delightful banquet. It's quite difficult for me to explain but I almost felt like I had an illuminating glow surrounding me, but only Heidi and I could see it. Our glow ignited and connected us in a way I have not experienced before. Healing ,comforting, warm. So beautiful. Such generosity and genuine compassion were exchanged during lunch. We acknowledged the unusual circumstances in which we had gathered together today but for us all it also highlighted what can happen if you just show up with love in your heart. Love has no boundaries which helped create this monumental day for us.
The significance and magnitude of our visit to 61 has been life changing. I feel I walked into our family home with angst, darkness and heartache but as I opened the front door to leave and took a deep breath, I left bathed in peace and love which surrounded every part of my being. The winter English sky was piercing blue without a single cloud. I know in my heart this is where Heidi and I were destined to be today.
I leave knowing life, love and laughter continues within the walls of 61 which warms my heart and brings me enormous peace. I will be forever grateful to the family for welcoming us into their home and providing the closure for this next chapter.
You may be wondering why I am sharing this with you. My recent connection with my art has empowered me to reframe this story into something quite beautiful.
My art IS my story.
Pictured Above: My Beautiful, Shop The Limited Edition Print here.