As an artist, I believe that every piece I create is coming through me from some other source and meant for one person out there. I've come to believe this because of it happening to me with many of my photographs and written pieces. Someone will come forward to share how important my image was to them, and how perfectly it aligned with something in their world, and I will know instantly that it found its home.
Nothing made me more certain of this idea than finding this painting last weekend. My girlfriend and I went to a local art festival, and as we walked into this woman's booth, my friend gasped and called my attention. As I looked up, I was speechless. There on the walls of her booth hung an almost exact painting of MY photo of my fiancé and I. And I knew instantly - I was the person she made that for, even though she did not know me at all.
Of course I bought it. And as I was paying her, I looked up the photo on my phone. I told her the story of my fiancé passing and then showed her the image - and she was as blown away as I was. We both teared up a little. I've had it resting on my writing desk since I came home… and it lights me up inside to look at. Not only because of the photo it represents, but also of the story this photo reminds me of...
A week before Drew and I began dating, we took a trip down to Padre Island together. We were best friends back then, just on the cusp of something more. One night, we went out to the beach to do some stargazing. There was a moment we both stood facing the blackness of the ocean, side by side. We joked about how scary the water looked at night, and how there could be a giant sea monster five feet from us and we wouldn't even know it. And then we just stood there beside each other in this incredibly strong, powerful, safe silence. And in that moment of quiet, with a vast blackness stretched out for miles before us, I knew for certain this is what I wanted. Someone to stand strong next to me. Not in front of me. Not behind me. Not leaning against me. But standing solid in his own power next to me. Ready to take on all the vast unknowns of life with me… even when it looks like something dangerous could be lurking just feet away. Someone on his own journey, who wants to stand next to me on my journey.
There was a serious change in me that night in understanding exactly what a partner is. We'd not yet made love, or kissed, or even held hands. But I didn't seem to need any of that to understand what I truly wanted was standing right next to me and had been all along. The rest… the romance, the intimacy, it all unfolded beautifully as the result of beginning from a place of such profound trust.
This painting reminds me of that night. It reminds me of the moment in my life when I finally understood what a partner should be. And it reminds me of the man who taught me this lesson - a man of integrity who - for the next three years of our lives together - always had my back. A man I trusted more deeply than I even knew was possible. He gave me more than just his love, he gave me a lesson that I take with me for the rest of my life. This painting reminds me never to forget that lesson; that - when the day comes to choose another partner - I will not accept anything less than the one who will stand beside me - both in the light and in the dark.