100 Thank Yous
“If the only prayer we ever say in our lives is ‘Thank You’ that will be enough.” – Meister Eckhart
On August 14, 2018, my husband Ryan died.
He was just 40 years old. He was a talented and compassionate physician. It was unexpected. It was all the things you can probably imagine – awful, traumatic, heartbreaking, terrifying, stressful, confusing – and more. I had to figure out how to tell my toddler that dada was gone and that he wasn’t coming back. I had to come to grips with the fact that I was also currently pregnant (baby girl was born in January 2019, very magically on her dad's birthday) and that Ryan will not be here to help me raise our new baby. Or to even meet our new baby. I am now a single parent. I don’t have a husband anymore. Just like that.
Life is in session – it’s happening right now, this is it! – and it doesn’t always go according to how we planned it.
After a conversation full of serendipities about rainbows between my wonderful mother-in-law, Barbara, and me one day, rainbows began to symbolize Ryan in our minds and became the unofficial theme of sorts for his memorial service. Barbara gave everyone a crystal to hang in their kitchen windows, something that Ryan used to love as a child. I created 40 small rainbow paintings for the service back in September 2018 and I gave the paintings to family and close family friends, as a way to remember him and to connect us all together during this tremendously painful time in our lives.
Something curious began to happen as I created the paintings, though. They started out as a way to commemorate Ryan but soon began to morph also into a way for me to express my gratitude to everyone in my world for the incredible and overwhelming outpouring of support, love, generosity, and compassion that’s been flooding my way since he died.
I found myself feeling so surprised that I could feel so deeply heartbroken, scared, sad, angry, and traumatized while simultaneously feeling a level of deep and intense gratitude that I’d never experienced before in my life and also an incredible knowing that I am going to be ok and that this will not stop me or break me. How could all those feelings and emotions exist within me all at the same time?? How could I be feeling SO grateful when my husband just died??
After I finished and gave away the 40 rainbow paintings, I didn’t feel finished. I wanted to paint more, and for some reason I wanted to paint 100 of them. That seemed like an intimidating number, and one that I should maybe rein in a little bit, but then I decided to see what the date would be 100 days after Ryan’s death. I counted twice to make sure and was shocked to discover that 100 days after is Thanksgiving Day. Ryan’s favorite holiday. Serendipity.
So 100 rainbow paintings it was.
Every day is an opportunity to create something beautiful, true, and meaningful. No matter the circumstances we are walking through. Every day is an opportunity to say thank you for the beauty that surrounds us in each moment.
I offered these 100 paintings as a visual THANK YOU, as bright little symbols of gratitude and hope to send out into the world to knit us together in colorful, compassionate, loving, truthful, and beauty-filled connection.
Ryan has been gone several years now. It seems like an eternity and a blink of an eye all at once somehow.
Recently I found myself being called to create 100 more rainbow paintings. This new series of rainbow paintings is also about gratitude – but gratitude for myself this time. For how far I've come and for how I've grown and continued to show up with an open heart. They are about self-love, freedom, resilience, inherent worthiness, forgiveness, self-respect, tenacity, growth, kindness, healing, and so much more. They are for me, but they are also for anyone else who is working hard to cultivate these kinds of things for themselves, in their own lives.
These paintings are a visual reminder of who you truly are underneath it all: You are a magical, sensational being who is worthy of everything your loving heart desires. Just because. And I am that, too. It is hard work being a human who is trying to heal, to grow, to feel better. I think we can all use some support, reminders, and connection as we walk our unique roads.
These rainbows are little magical gems to hang on your wall as a reminder of the magical gem that YOU are.