MY STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING OF THE BLUE LADY

THIS IS MY STORY

IN NOVEMBER OF 2000 MY HUSBAND’S ESOPHAGEAL CANCER DIAGNOSIS ENDED LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. DARTMOUTH-HITCHCOCK MEDICAL CENTER BECAME OUT SECOND HOME AND THE CORRIDOR TO NORRIS COTTON CANCER CENTER OUR MOST TRAVELED PATH. ITS WALLS AN ART GALLERY. ON OUR WAY TO THE CANCER CENTER, WE ALWAYS STOPPED TO ADMIRE THE PAINTINGS. WE DIDN’T SPEAK ABOUT CANCER. MY HUSBAND OFTEN SAID TO ME, “YOUR PAINTINGS SHOULD HANG HERE.” I CHUCKLED.

AFTER TWO AND A HALF YEARS OF TREATMENT, SURGERY, AND NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE, WE FACED THE WORDS NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR. ” YOUR CANCER HAS RETURNED. THERE IS NO CURE.” WE TO ENTERED THE PALLIATIVE CARE PROGRAM ESTABLISHED TO , KEEP THE CANCER AT BAY TO SUPPORT MY HUSBAND’S GOALS. HE HAD THREE GOALS; TO FINISH THE SKI SEASON IN HIS JOB AS ALPINE RACING DIRECTOR, TO TRAVEL HOME TO SWITZERLAND, AND TO CELEBRATE OUR SON’S JUNE WEDDING.

AS THE CANCER STEPPED-UP ITS ASSAULT, I WAS NOT SURE MY HUSBAND’S DEBILITATED STATE COULD SURVIVE THE TRIP TO SWITZERLAND. BUT WITH THE MEDICAL TEAM’S SUPPORT I BOOKED THE FLIGHT. STOCKED WITH MEDICAL SUPPLIES, A PORTABLE FEEDING TUBE PUMP, AND ENOUGH MORPHINE TO KILL A VILLAGE, WE ENJOYED A MONTH-LONG VISIT IN SWITZERLAND WITH HIS FAMILY. ONCE BACK HOME, WE JUMPED RIGHT IN TO WEDDING PREPARATIONS.

KISSES, SMILES, AND WEDDING BELLS RANG. MY HUSBAND A LIFE-LONG ATHLETE WALKED ME DOWN THE AISLE. HE WEIGHED NINETY-EIGHT POUNDS. WE DANCED TO WHEN AUTUMN LEAVES BEGIN TO FALL. A WEEK LATER, WE ENTERED ROOM 107, MADE OUR HOME, AND WELCOMED FAMILY AND FRIENDS. WE SANG, TOLD STORIES, AND HAD A PICNIC. MANY OF WERNER’S MEDICAL TEAM GATHERED AT THE DOOR. THEY SAID THAT THEY HEARD A PARTY WAS GOING ON IN ROOM 107. WERNER WELCOMED THEM TO STAY. THAT DAY WE CELEBRATED LIFE WITH MY HUSBAND. LOVE FILLED THE ROOM.

THE NEXT MORNING, MY BRAVE BEGAN TO DISSOLVE KNOWING WHAT WAS COMING. WERNER SENSED IT, AND SAID, “IT IS GOOD FOR YOU TO GO OUTSIDE AND WALK IN THE GARDENS” I DID AND THERE i MET THE BLUE LADY SCULPTURE.

HER CHIN UP AND HER HANDS ON HER HIPS DREW ME CLOSER. I SPOKE TO HER NOT CARING IF ANYONE NOTICED. “YOU TOO SEEM TO STAND-UP AGAINST AND FACE SOMETHING THREATENING YOUR WORLD.”

AS SOON AS I SAID IT, I REMEMBERED WERNER’S ONE REQUEST OF ME WHEN WE ENTERED THE CANCER JOURNEY, “YOU MUST BE BRAVE.” AND THEN I REMEMBERED MY JOURNALS FILLED WITH GOD’S PROMISES TO WALK ME ON THE WATERS OF MY FEARS AND FULFILL WERNER’S ONE REQUEST. I WALKED AWAY FROM THE BLUE LADY SCULPTURE CARRYING THE VISUAL SYMBOL OF HER COURAGEOUS STANCE. I RETURNED TO WERNER WHOSE COURAGE AND FAITH GREW STRONGER AS OUR DAYS TOGETHER WERE COMING TO A CLOSE.

EARLY IN THE MORNING I SAT ON THE WINDOW SEAT AND PICKED-UP THE BIBLE FROM WERNER’S BEDSIDE TABLE, OPENED IT AT RANDOM, AND READ THESE WORDS, UNAWARE THAT THIS WAS THE DAY I DREAD.

” THEY WHO HOPE IN THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH, THEY SHALL PUT ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES. THEY SHALL RUN AND NOT GROW WEARY, WALK AND NEVER TIRE.” ISAIAH 40; 30-31

THE INVITATION TO EXHIBIT MY WORK CAME IN THE SUMMER OF 2015

TWENTY-SIX OF MY PAINTINGS WERE EXHIBITED INCLUDING THE BLUE LADY AND THIS STORY. I THINK IT WOULD BE MY HUSBAND’S TURN TO CHUCKLE.

THE BLUE LADY PASTEL AND MY STORY ARE NOW A PART OF THEIR PERMANENT COLLECTION. THE PASTEL PAINTING HANGS INSIDE THE NORTH ENTRANCE TO THE CANCER CENTER. I AM TOLD IT CONTINUES TO BE AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO OTHERS.

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THE INVITATION TO EXHIBIT MY ARTWORK CAME IN 2015

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“THIS PROVIDED ME WITH COMFORT FOR MONTHS. I AM MOVED EVEN REMEMBERING THIS PAINTING. FROM MY HEART TO YOURS, K. JOHNSON

The HEADER photograph is the Rublihorn, the Alp on the right. A special Alp located in Saanen, Switzerland.

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