Transitioning from this life


Inks and gesso on gesso textured w/c paper, 10 X 11″

below the belt he slips it in
and my energy leaks out
into some soup where all thoughts go
to the business of comprehending
what does it mean
this, here today and gone tomorrow?

the one person left on earth
who has been there from
(my) beginning is waiting
to catch the boat across
and take the secret with her

i watch as she gets smaller and smaller
becomes a child again
now a baby curled up
with toes planted firmly

in those dreams floating
in the world underneath the mind
in the same dark and shiny cave as this elf
a Dobby with red eyes

he packs magic in his bag
but even he cannot predict
the exact moment when dear Ellen
will catch her boat

Have you guessed?  My mother is transitioning from this life, taken to her bed, not likely to rise again.  It feels BIG.  Not sad.  She’s a wise and wonderful 93.  Just BIG as in mysterious and requiring full attention.  Art helps.  It always does.  It meets the numinous on its own ground through metaphor and meaning, which is just out of reach of the logical mind, where it should be.

16 Responses to “Transitioning from this life”

  1. 1 Allan and Mary Jayne Hill
    December 18, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Much love to you during this passage.


  2. 2 Shawna
    December 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Blessings and peace to temper the sorrow. It is very big when your mother passes. An un-mooring occurs, you are set adrift and the shore you anchored to is no more. My mom passed in 2001. I will be chanting for you and your mother… Love, Shawna


  3. 3 rosilov
    December 19, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Very moving and very wise, Susan. It’s a privilege that you share this sacred event with us. Blessings. Rosi


  4. December 19, 2012 at 7:32 am

    Susan, I read your every entry but just had to stop by this time with a comment. Your poem and art hit home in a BIG way. Thanks for sharing and may be all be adrift together as we enter this new chapter of our lives and hopefully one day carry the answers to the next shore as well.


  5. December 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I lost my mother this year, just 2 days before her 93rd birthday. Your beautiful poem expresses so beautifully this transition. May you find comfort in yourself and among those close to you. I am grateful that you can share this experience and your feelings so freely. Peace to you and your family.


  6. 7 Judith Markoff
    December 19, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Dear Susan: What a beautiful poem; I don’t know if your way with words or art can be compared as more beautiful than the other………if you need to talk……I will be happy to be with you as we share mothers who are in transitions. Mine had a bout of pneumonia right before Thanksgiving. She has recovered 8 of the 10 steps if you will to what she was before; her mind definitely slipped a few notches and she seems more childlike to me. It was scary and seemed like she might not recover at all and at that point we all became very philosophical. In any case, I am sorry and would love to be with you at some point if that feels right…….. Judy

    Judyand Rick


  7. 8 Cathy
    December 19, 2012 at 8:49 am

    Thank you for your beautiful poem and painting. This passage from life to death is something primal, esp when it’s a mom. I agree, it is a spiritual time, please know you are in my thoughts and prayers.


  8. December 19, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Hello Susan: My thoughts and prayers are with you. I am a Canadian artist, living and painting in the beautiful city of Victoria. i have admired your art ever since I found your blog site. And what wonderful words you have as well to go along with your lovely work!


  9. December 19, 2012 at 8:54 am

    So beautifully expressed, in word and image, Susan. Having passed through this in-between space, I keep you in thought and prayer. May the peace of the season be with you always.


  10. December 19, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I love the metaphor of the boat, and crossing the great river. It is a momentous and blessed time. Your painting really expresses a boundary between two worlds, with earthy colors bordering on the fire of pure spirit. Love to you.


  11. 12 Gail Hight
    December 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Susan, so beautifully expressed. My thoughts are with you and I hope that her transition is peaceful. Blessings to you. Gail


  12. December 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I am quite overcome with the outpouring of love and support here. Such exquisitely wise and heart felt sharing. . . I almost didn’t post this because I didn’t want to activate the sorrow of others. But here I see only my own self reflected back, beautifully. Thank you all!


  13. December 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Hi Susan! I translate your words to swedish, so I understand your words better…. You write so beautiful and emotional. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. I was thinking of My mom… To be 93 is admirable. ( I don’t know if I choosing the right words now.) My mom was 77, and I miss her so. Her mom was 96… Sending my thoughts to you and your mom. Best regard /Lola


  14. 15 Nancy
    January 5, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful poem and image. Sending love and blessings to you during this time of transition.


  15. January 7, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Susan, I am sorry for your loss. You and your mother had a long time on earth together. As she has caught her boat, you will find that you have an earthly boat all your own here that you will occupy in her absence. From one who lost her mother over a decade ago, I hope you experience along with your loss a sense of freedom that only adds to your creative spirit. See you Saturday.


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In conversations with the Muse I mix paint with vision, collage with story, word with meditation and prayer. And out of the mixture comes a release of energy and healing and a lightening of the load of everyday living. You'll find most of it here, where I've been showing up for the past few years, along with collectible paintings, travel sketchbooks, figure studies and an invitation to join me in art play and discovery!

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By Susan Cornelis


All images and text are the original copyrighted work of Susan Cornelis unless otherwise attributed.


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