When I went into my studio this morning, I turned my attention to cleaning up. After a week of intense, passionate, sometimes renetic painting, it was a welcome form of relaxation. As usual for a Sunday morning, I had the radio on to listen to Michael Enright’s program, The Sunday Edition.
While I was putting away some works on paper that had been hanging out on top of my flat files for, possibly, a long time, I was hearing Sonali Deraniyagala tell Michael Enright about Boxing Day, 2004 in Yala, Sri Lanka. While there for a family holiday, a wave more than thirty feet high swept away her and her husband, her two young sons, and her parents. Somehow, she survived.
She said she wished, at first, she had died too. For a long time, she tried to erase memories. Now it is the memories that nourish her. She has written “an intimate and profoundly moving memoir that stitches together like a kind of memory blanket — memories from a life undisturbed and a life split apart” in her new book, simply titled Wave. “It was a disaster of proportions so enormous that to ever make sense of it seemed impossible.”
As I was leafing through the pieces of art I had collected in my drawers, deciding if they were worth keeping and where to put them if I did, I could imagine my children having to sort through them again after I die. I felt tears for them. I can only hope it will not be too soon nor too late.