Touched by loss. Empowered through community.

Blank Canvas

Monday, November 9, 2015
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Eden Maheras

I’m coming up to the end of a kitchen remodel, which also ended up including repainting my whole main living area…and redoing my fireplace as well. It’s the first time I’ve really put “my” mark on a living space, and while there was certainly some stress involved in the process (I hate making decisions, and don’t have the eye for decorating that JP had), I’m really excited about how it’s all turning out. The last piece that I’m turning to (for now) is the empty wall space.

When I moved in, I basically just hung the pieces that JP and I had had in our last place – and in his bachelor pad before that. They didn’t necessarily go with my new space, and I didn’t really have any sentimental attachment to any of them (most had just been sitting in storage, and it’s not like they were original artwork), but they filled a void, and served a purpose. I wasn’t ready to part with them, so up they went.

Now, I’m looking at these empty walls not as “space to fill” but as opportunity to tell a story – my story, our story. And if there are areas that remain empty for a while, I’m going to be ok with that. The aesthetic I’ve chosen for my new kitchen is not JP’s style, and eventually I anticipate that the furniture will catch up to the newer, more modern look. The pieces we/he had no longer seem like they fit in. But - one step at a time...

I’m excited about hanging things on the walls, and have some ideas. Early fall seems to be when everyone takes, and posts, family photo shoots; seeing all the family photos has really gotten me thinking. While I haven’t had professional pictures taken of Max since he was 9 months old, and most of my pics are very “amateur hour” - from a cell phone, every one of us together is very clearly a selfie, with my arm looming large in the foreground - I’m sure I can find some print-worthy images to hang. And in some ways, their “imperfections” will tell our real story – I would rather hang a collection of stories that makes us laugh and remind us of the fun we've had than a “family portrait gallery” of airbrushed images. That’s not our life. We’re in constant motion, so a little blurriness is bound to happen.

I’m also looking forward to moving away from “stock images.” I don’t have a budget for fabulous pieces of fine art, but do want to be on the lookout for interesting items: fun finds at art fairs, or pieces we pick up while traveling. I loved the stories that the pieces my parents brought home from trips told. I would love to start that tradition for Max as well.

My first attempt at some “homemade original artwork” to contribute to the white walls will happen this weekend, when I host a party for some friends visiting from out of town. All told, there will be 18 kids. A friend recommended a cool project – each kid gets to paint a wood cutout (I’ve already painted them a variety of base colors), and then I’ll glue them to a board in some sort of pattern/shape, frame, and hang. We’ll see how the logistics of this undertaking go, but I’m excited to see how it turns out.

I know many of us have addressed the challenges of getting rid of things that belonged to, or were chosen by, our late spouses. This project has been a really great exercise for me in that area. I’ve been forced out of my comfort zone, having to make décor decisions, and I’ve been able to slowly come to terms with saying good bye to things that bear JP’s stamp on them. There will always be some things that I keep, the things that have a story to tell. But right now, I’m working on opening a new chapter, and while I want to honor the past, it’s been nice to get excited about the present, and the future. And I’m hoping that the end result will have me feeling like I’ve accomplished something I didn’t think I was capable of doing. I can't wait to see the story unfold on my hallway and living room walls.

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