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All The Wrong Curves

She gave me permission to say it. It did not come easy. No one, especially the young with their lives ahead of them, want to publicize their shortcomings around the playground. So I tried to keep her ‘secret’. I tried to swallow the guilt, and find a better answer for her. I couldn’t.

“You gave me all the wrong curves” she said, laughing. I laughed back, but it really was not so funny. A little over a year ago, just before the start of this blog, my daughter told me her back hurt. I had just recovered from a herniated disk, and I had no sympathy. She was 14. I was 46. Stretch out. That was my advice.

I boarded a plane for Italy. I was accepted to a 4-week residency painting program, and I was going. I don’t regret that. Our kids stayed with my sister in-law, a nurse. I returned home to a new understanding. “Ok, a little scoliosis – I have that too – no big deal – it never bothered me,” I thought. I was wrong.

Subsequent visits to doctors all offered the same conclusion. Spinal fusion. NO. Not my girl. NO. We tried all of the alternative methods with fierce determination. We watched her curve, along with her pain, progress. Our move to the east coast had as much to do with Shriners Hospital as it did with my art career. I knew it was coming. I knew I needed my family.

I know the experts say that this blog is not supposed to be about my private life. It is suppose to be about art. But my private life is what fuels my art. They go hand in hand. One feeds the other, and chokes it too.

I have had many high points, but they are always weighted by some other element. I painted with the Rolling Stones under a wickedly broken heart (he was a jerk too). I experienced some of the most moving work of my career, without the ability to pay the mortgage. I have also paid the mortgage with some very uninspiring work. Every so often I hit that bliss that we all search for – those of us that believe it still exists anyway. But it seems that for the most part, you can’t have it all, all of the time.

I have been invited to paint in paradise. I am going. I leave on Wednesday. It is an amazing opportunity, one that I considered canceling because an opening came up in her surgery schedule. I didn’t want to make her wait until the summer. She didn’t want me to give up on a dream. Behind the solution, is one strong little lady, and her incredible Dad.

This has been the most difficult week of my life – and hers – and his. She has crushed me with her tears, and inspired me with her strength.

I will paint in paradise. I will go without guilt knowing that she is in the hands of great love. I will paint all of the beauty that I can find, because I am in the hands of great love. Hand in hand – that art & life thing… hand in hand.


4 Responses to All The Wrong Curves

wow, the life of an artist in a nutshell. Unless you live in a vacuum,
or in a cave somewhere, we do have to make these choices. I am in a
similar situation, and canceled my trip to Philly for the Portrait
conference because of it; but am holding out for a trip to Mongolia
(if I get accepted) if my husband is still healthy enough for me to go
away for that long of a time.
HE really wants me to go. But if he’s unable to care for himself, how could I?
Scary stuff. Keep painting and I will too.

Posted by Mimi Torchia Boothby · via web · 122 months ago

Kelly, my heart goes out to you. My son wore a back brace for scoliosis for a year and a half. He is 18 now and we’re just still watching it. I am so happy to hear you are going to paint in paradise, and I send lots of healing energy to your special girl. All will be well.
p.s. my son wore thick hoodies even on warm days so nobody would see the brace underneath, so I can imagine her bravery in allowing this post…hugs!!

Posted by Lisa · via · 122 months ago

Hi Mimi, I’m sorry you will not make it to Philly. I know you were looking forward to it. We are lucky to share life with people we love, and sometimes we have no choice. Sometimes, we have to make the choice. Aidan is on the road to recovery. She came through the surgery with flying colors, and although the next four weeks will be painful and not without struggle – I know in my heart that she will be fine, and that she will be in the hands of her father – a really good father. That makes a big difference. I hope you can make it to Mongolia. It sounds like an amazing opportunity. One that you deserve, and one that Donald would love you to have. Yes, keep painting Mimi.

Posted by kelly sullivan · via · 122 months ago

Hi Lisa, Thanks for the note. It is a hard thing to see your babies (though they may be taller than you) struggle. I appreciate you taking the time to post. I hope your son can find a better solution. If there is no pain, than a little curve should be OK to live with. Easier to say when it is not your young body carrying it I guess.

Posted by kelly sullivan · via · 122 months ago


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