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15 years ago today Michael, who had become the rock in my life returned home. It was sudden, unexpected and ripped parts from my heart apart within my chest that as I reflect, are ok. Not a little ok, not a lot ok, but ok. Really ok.

Waking up today seemed different than every other year. For that matter, the lead up to today was also different. I can’t explain it, but I know it is God.  I had a list of words that all looked great as I typed, but also looked contrived and unimaginative, you know, like really great throwaway bible verses that I’ve had thrown at me and probably thrown at others, (heart felt sorry to those who I’ve done that to), when that’s what was not needed. But instead knowing that someone was there, just because.

Michael was one of those “just because” people…Just because he cared and it didn’t matter where you were from or what you had done, or who you were, he would be there. This is what I missed the most. Mr. Reliable, Mr. Funny, I can still hear his laugh. Mr. Dependable. Not Mr. Perfect, not sitting on a pedestal Mr. Got It All Together. But he was Mr. Real. He really cared and I really miss that, but God has got it covered. God has got a whole lot of my life’s messy stuff covered. This hope is what gets me out of bed every morning.

It looks like Michael has become one of the Mr. Men. This thought makes me giggle a little and images of the goofy things I have photographed him doing as we were growing up come to mind and how they could become illustrations, animations. And now this makes me laugh.

There are so many things today’s date has brought to mind from the past. The year’s where I was unable to breath, as though the air was too thick to actually inhale and the pressure in my lungs so painful, was it grief or this pain that brought the most tears. There were many years that the ache in my chest, as though my heart was clamped in a vice, with its unrelenting pressure, felt like it would never end. A few years ago as I looked over old photographs, it became too obvious that there were not enough photos of Michael, and as I continue to grow older, and continue to photographically document the  lives around me, his had stopped being collected. There have been times that the tears felt like they would never stop, and there have been some today and as I painted this image over the last couple of weeks, but they have been more out of thankfulness rather than grief and unquenchable pain. And this brings me joy even in my missing him. I had struggled with using photos of Michael in my art making in the past and have only dabbled a little. Over the last couple months, however, I have sketched a little and explored the images I’d like to play with in the studio.

This one is my favourite. It shows so much of why I love this man.

In past years any one of, or a combination of, all these manifestations of grief could return at any moment that would bring back these agonising memories of my loss. But not today. Today there is freedom, a word spoken over my life earlier this year, and today is different. I can’t explain it, other than I know it is God.