Now that I am officially returned from my trip to Boise, I feel comfortable posting about my purpose in this visit. While the reason for my Idaho trip was in fact due to an upcoming film project (a documentary/reality/behind the scenes project! Stay tuned!!) I got to pick the dates for my visit.
I very specifically timed this trip so as to be in Idaho on April 3rd...
You see, it was one year ago on April 3rd, 2012 that my mother died.
On the year anniversary of that date there was no place I wanted to be more than with my two little sisters in the Meridian cemetery where our mother is buried.
I won't get into the details of our Mother's passing, but this post is definitely on the more personal side. As with most of my posts though, I do in fact have a photo set that I would like to share with you. These photos were actually taken only a couple hours after leaving the hospital where, after 6 weeks of tests, tears, and prayers; we took our Mother off of life support and held her hand, and each other, as she slipped away into a new existence; one free of pain, free of suffering, and free of the injustice she had fought for so long.
If I am an artist (I am) then my body is my canvas.
These photos are for my Mom.
Click below to see.
On April 3, 2012, my life became one of questions..
What do I do, now that the woman who hurt me the most, who loved me the most, is suddenly gone? How do I carry the weight of knowing I hadn't seen her and had barely spoken to her in four years? Where do I start, knowing that this was the ONE relationship in my life in which I had refused to take the high road, the ONE in which I clung bitterly to all the wrong-doings I had ever felt victim of? How do I begin to accept that the assumption of a second-chance no longer exists? Now that I am forced with the reality that that day in the future, the time for a hug, a friendship, a new beginning for me and my Mother, was never, ever guaranteed....?
I had no answers to these questions. I still don't.
On April 3, 2012 I did what I do best. I posed.
The day my mother died I used my body as I often do. To express the emotions I had no words for. I wanted to be NAKED, in every sense of the word. I wanted to be opened, exposed, like a raw wound that I wanted the world to see. I wanted none of it. No wardrobe, no make up, no piercings.... Just me.
Don't ask me why I asked my sister to shave my head at this shoot. I don't know. I've heard of many cultures and traditions of shaving your head as a sign of penance.. but that's not why. This was just what I felt like I needed to do.
It's difficult putting my emotions regarding my mother's death into words. I don't think the words I need even exist. The fact that it has been a year is mind blowing, to say the least. I have much soul searching left. I have much mourning left. Frankly, I just haven't had the time yet. Spending the one year anniversary with my sisters was one step in the process of healing. As anyone that has felt such a loss can tell you though, the journey is a lifelong one.
But you can't focus on the loss, remember instead what you have gained. Dwell not on the death, but focus on the life, and appreciate more the ones you have left. Work to overcome the shame from your mistakes, and try your damnedest to implement the lesson and be a better person for it. And always make time for sisters.
One last thing I'd like to share is the slideshow from my 15 hour drive from Bakersfield to Boise to begin making the funeral arrangements (best in fullscreen). It's a drive I've done 10 times this last year, most of those solo, and it never fails to take my breathe away with the beauty that surrounds me. In every cloud lining, on every breeze, in every line of earth, and in every ray of sun, I see my mother, watching over me, encouraging me, and pushing me forward in chasing my dreams.
Love you, Mom.
Jennifer Jean LaFollette
aka Jin N Tonic
All photos are CopyRight Burnside Photography 2012