The Silver Lining by Vanessa Longacre-Wilcox


This post was originally written in June but I just put finishing touches on the painting this week and waited until now to post.

Two tragedies befell each of my kids’ school communities this past week and because they are not my stories to tell, I will leave most details brief.  In both cases, beloved people had sudden and shocking losses in their families.

Each school community has rallied and tried to find ways to support the bereaved. We have huddled in corners of the playground, flabbergasted at how insufficient any help we could offer is. How do you help someone who has lost loved ones so suddenly and senselessly. Meal train? Gift cards? We stand in our circles and plan with an intense amount of sadness and helplessness as we grapple with the inadequate number of things that help when someone you care about is experiencing such a great loss.

I spent the first weekend after the news wanting to hide under the covers with a long straw and a bottle of wine.  I wanted to hide and numb.  I know from years of experience, that doesn't actually make me feel better.  What makes me feel better is exercise and art but what I historically turn to is cocktails and chocolate.  

Driving from one playground pick-up to another thinking of the tragedy I was leaving to the one I was heading towards I felt a deep storm within, my eyes welling with the weight of the water that desperately wanted to escape to find relief. I looked up and I was so moved by the mid-day summer sky that I had to pull over to take a picture.  

The weather has been as moody as we all have been.  Storms rolling in leaving way to sudden warmth and sunshine only to come crashing down with rain the second you got your SPF on.  It has been cathartic.  Coincidental weather and emotional alignment. The photo didn’t do justice to the feeling of synchronicity. I knew the second I looked at it that this was going to be my next art project.  To try to capture the crushing beauty of the silver lining. It lent itself to all kinds of metaphors. A reminder that storms do give way eventually. A reminder that life is never just one thing.

My five year old daughter came over to watch me paint. She looked at the picture and asked, “Are you going to paint the powerlines?” My answer was yes, because they are a reminder of reality. That life is many things at once and that even in terrible times there is beauty. The powerlines create their own pattern, their own interesting tale. They are not to be erased to pretend that a perfect sky is all there is. This piece is about not pretending. This piece is about acknowledging reality.


Finished painting.  I always find it funny what kid artifacts are on my desk that I don’t even notice until I take a picture.  Apparently, there was a nerf battle near by.

Finished painting. I always find it funny what kid artifacts are on my desk that I don’t even notice until I take a picture. Apparently, there was a nerf battle near by.

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