Matt, The project named IntoLight was started by a mom like me who also lost her son from an opioid overdose. This mom is also an artist and to find her peace she began to draw her son’s pictures during different phases of his life. I guess she felt closer to him as I do to you writing this blog.
One day she decided to start drawing portraits of other mothers children who like her son have died from an overdose. When I met her she told me she wanted to humanize addiction and hoped that when people visited the art exhibit they would be moved by all the beautiful faces staring back at them.
The exhibit opened on a Thursday night. I was amazed at how many people were attending. Sadly so many were members of my support group and had become dear friends.
As we gathered together in the lobby I could feel the anxiety and sadness in the crowd. It was almost palpable. No one really wanted to be there. What we wanted was our children to be alive and well. We wanted more birthdays, more adventures, more time. But we were all robbed of those dreams and now the reality of life was upon us again.
The exhibit was on the second floor. I remember climbing the stairs surrounded by so many familiar faces, those faces trying so hard to conceal the pain that flowed through our hearts as we knew that soon we would be facing those portraits of our beloved children.
The portraits were arranged A-Z making it easy for everyone to find their loved one’s location. As I walked through the door I was immediately aware of my mask starting to crack. I wear this mask in public to pretend that I’m ok. To keep those at a distance who will look at me in pity or with shameless contempt when they hear your story.
I slowly made my way around the room. I was in awe of the hauntingly beautiful eyes, smiles and faces staring back at me. So many were the children of my friends. I recognized their faces from pictures shared during our support group, but seeing them all grouped together was an entirely different experience. Their portraits took on an essence that a photo could never capture.
Before I knew it, I was looking directly into your eyes. I felt my breath catch in my throat. I wasn’t prepared for my body’s response to seeing your handsome face staring back at me. I felt as if you were there standing next to me as I searched your face imprinting your image upon my brain. It was as if time stood still and I could feel your soul reuniting with mine. Although I was surrounded my many I felt enveloped in a cocoon of sadness, silence and peace.
Leaving the exhibit, I felt as if I was leaving a piece of my heart behind. The last thing I ever dreamed of or wanted was to have a beautiful portrait of you hanging on a wall in an art museum project that is attempting to bring awareness to and humanize the disease that would sadly end your life.
I will continue to look to you to light my path as I continue my journey alone. My grief brings darkness but you my beautiful boy will always be my guiding light.