Artist (noun): A person who creates paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby
As people start to deck the halls and adorn their homes for Christmas, it reminds me of a drawing of a nursery decoration that a friend created for Baby Loss Awareness Week. I toyed with including it in my Picture-Perfect blog, but soon decided it needed a blog in of itself. So here it is:
Hopefully you remember @sketchpad_on_tour’s work from our collaborative blog about trauma, this is another of her drawings. When Tori shared this on Instagram, she added the caption:
“Instead of hanging a mobile in a nursery next month, I thought I’d show the mobile that hangs above my head”.
Having discussed the drawing at various stages of its development, Tori kindly agreed to let me blog about it. When her mum saw it back in October, she said that it made her sad, as there’s no hope in the drawing. Tori asked me this morning “does the image make you feel hopeful?” I replied “I’m not sure yet, I’ll start writing… Let’s see”.
So here goes, all thoughts and musings are my own take on the image.
If you gave the drawing a cursory glance, you may think it a sweet image: a hanging mobile for a child’s cot. But anything longer than a fleeting look and you’ll see, it’s not quite right. There are items hanging which shouldn’t be there: though the colours are bright, the items are dark. For me, the blue and pink ribbon is forever ingrained in my memory as the emblem for Baby Loss Awareness, but for the uninitiated, perhaps it would be the pointed syringe or the broken heart that would first catch the eye. The condolence card and the word “fear” allay any misgivings, this mobile is about loss, baby loss.
When I first spoke to Tori about the completed image, I noted that it really summed up my first miscarriage, with BoC, noting that it touchingly depicted how all the innocence and dreams quickly morphed into something entirely different; a nightmare. Yet look at the yellow tinged background colour, there’s light in the room, it’s daytime. This is not a dream, this is actually happening. The mobile itself, is sturdy, solid. Again, to my mind, reinforcing the permanence and reality of the situation.
Storm: The storm is still raging, it’s angry and look: there’s even a bolt of lightning. Yet, lightning is not supported to strike in the same place twice, so what’s happened here? Thinking in seasonal terms, this is clearly tumultuous weather, times are tough. Storms do however eventually pass, so some may view a storm as hopeful. It could wash away all that was there before and a rainbow may follow in brighter times. After all, a healthy baby born after a loss, is often called a “rainbow baby” for this very reason (not a term I like).
Teardrop: I think the tear is rather subtle, it’s almost as if it’s delicately fallen from the raincloud above. There are some shocking items hanging from the mobile, but the tear is not one of them. It’s solitary. For me, it conjures the idea of a silent, hidden cry. It captures the private and lonely aspect of grief. It’s not the most prominent – it’s the smallest and simplest – item, but it’s arguably the most important.
Card and Flower: These are items typically associated with bereavement: condolence cards and flowers. The sunflower itself looks so sad, it’s drooping, but I don’t think it quite dead. It still has its colour, it looks like a person – broken. But I feel, that with the right watering, it could lift its head and shine brightly again. Perhaps it needs the nourishment from the tear above. Feeling is healing. The card itself is simple: “sorry” encapsulating that there are so few words spoken with respect to baby loss, except the old adage “I’m sorry for your loss”.
Broken Heart: It’s not just broken, look it is still bleeding. How long has it been hanging there? A heavy heart, broken in two, yet still beating. How is that possible? It’s even defying gravity, this heart is something special. Broken, but beautiful. A heart that once beat for two, now broken in two. Yet, the unique thing about a mobile, is how it changes over time. When it turns and when it catches the light, you see different things, new details that you might not have noticed before. So when the heart spins round, from some angles, it will appear whole. There could be some hope here. Perhaps in one orbit (e.g. one earth year) or one cycle – however you want to view it – maybe in time, things will be different. Still broken, perhaps patched, yet somehow whole again. The heart may heal.
Fear: I love a definition and fear is defined as “an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm”. There is a lot of pain around baby loss, not just with respect to what’s gone before, but what’s yet to come. But remember, FEAR is also an acronym for “Face Everything And Rise”, so it depends on your attitude towards fear. I also adore the use of the scrabble tiles, I think they hint at a future to come: the education and teaching of a child.
Two Stars: I believe that these two stars represent Tori’s two miscarriages. To some, the size of the stars may simply be to provide balance to the drawing, but I think they’re suggestive of the stage of the losses: that the second miscarriage perhaps occurred at an earlier stage than the first. Sad as this is, stars shine bright. The light from a star will burn brightly for thousands of years – just like these two babies will be remembered forever. And these two particular stars are bringing attention to something very important: the baby loss awareness emblem.
Baby Loss Ribbon: This ribbon is a case of “if you know, you know”. In the way that I know the red ribbon is for AIDS awareness, I’ve come to learn that the blue and pink one is for baby loss. Normalising the conversation, supporting one another, increasing the research – these aspects are all important reasons to increase the awareness around this topic.
Syringe: One of the more shocking items, which hints at how invasive the medical investigations can be. Tonnes and tonnes of endless blood tests. It’s running on empty, I wonder why Tori didn’t include the blood. A sign of enough is enough? Or a pause to the medical investigations? Medical intervention however could help future pregnancies, it could give answers, it could stop it happening again: that’s the hope we all have, anyway.
Magpie: Both myself and Tori’s husband said “I don’t get the bird” – haha, and then we were reminded that magpies are unlucky – duh! (Magpies also like shiny things, so I’m not surprised the bird found its way onto a gold mobile!). Once prodded in the right direction, I remembered the traditional children’s rhyme about magpie spotting: “one for sorrow”. This solitary magpie, sums up the loss (on Summer’s due date, we went for a walk and I photographed the one lonely magpie we saw). If we want to be hopeful however, the magpie could mate, so let’s not forget the next part of the rhyme: “two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy!”.
Tornado: This just sums up the whole premise of baby loss, building on the idea of a storm, it’s just a complete whirlwind of emotion. Up, down, left, right, all over the shop. You’ve seen it on here so much of the time. There is however a point in the tornado – the eye – which is calm. We just need to figure out how to get there.
Candle: Candles are often lit in memory and remembrance, but the artist has not chosen a large, stocky Church candle, but a small delicate votive. The flame burns bright, but it will be extinguished soon. Very much encapsulating the short life of the babies carried.
To take a fairly mundane item like a baby mobile and to adapt it in this way, well, it’s such a clever drawing, poignant and powerful, with such incredible depth. These are just my own individual takeaways and I’ve just scratched the surface – Tori and yourselves will have more, I’m sure.
So, to answer your question, Tori: Do I see this as hopeful? I don’t know. I think it’s more hopeful now than when you first showed it to me. And perhaps in time, it will be less sad than it is now. I’m not sure about hope, but more than anything, I see it as important, which is why I wanted to give it some time and thought. Thank you again for allowing me to do that.
P.S. After I posted my last blog, Winter, I kicked myself for not including a note on one of the more obvious things I’ve gained since Summer: FRIENDSHIP. So thanks to Tori, I’ve a total girl-crush, this end!
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