This month has gone by so incredibly quick and it’s hard to believe we’ve reached our last inspiring guest post for our International Creativity Month series. Carly Marie Dudley is such an incredible force in the babyloss community and I am so glad to have her closing us out today. Please check out her generous giveaway below and be sure to visit her over at her website Project Heal. ~Beryl
Year 11 Art – Fail. Year 12 Art – Fail. The reason for the fail – None of my artwork was inspired by a famous artist. They pretty much failed me because I was original. I left school thinking I was a failure at what I loved most. Without a second thought I gave up on what my heart wanted because in my 17 year old mind I could not see past my teacher’s bad report. She had given me a D (which in Australia is a fail) What was the point in doing something that I apparently sucked at? So I graduated highschool and went and got a seriously boring job. My last job was working for the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. I sat in a call center all day and answered inquiries from people who were having issues with their licence and vehicle registration. The job itself was mind numbing and the only reason why I didn’t leave after the first month was the people that I worked with – they were fun!
In 2005 I fell pregnant with our first child. As my belly grew I felt the urge to pick up a camera, I photographed my beautiful growing baby belly and flowers – I loved flowers. I photographed them in my garden from when they were born as tiny buds all the way through to their full and magnificent blooms. Scarlett was born at full term but she was very unwell. She could not breathe on her own and she spent the beginning of her life in the NICU. She did not bloom as easily as the flowers I had been photographing in the months prior to her traumatic birth. After she was able to come home with us I lost my passion for taking photos. Everytime I looked at Scarlett’s photos I felt sick. She was all tied up with tubes and drips. She was bruised from head to toe. I put my camera away.
Fast forward to 2 1/2 years later. I am sitting at my dinner table holding a plastic sachet that held the ashes of Scarlett’s little brother Christian who was stillborn 18 months beforehand. Christian was just over a ruler length long. He had chubby cheeks and a button nose. Christian had a condition called Hyrdocephalus and because he did not have enough brain matter to tell him to swallow he never really grew a stomach and so at 21 weeks he pretty much stopped growing and he died at around 25-26 weeks. My life had stopped at his fatal diagnosis and 18 months later I still felt like I had no pulse. As I sat at the table holding his ashes I cried. I could not picture his face anymore. I had hit rock bottom. How could a mother possibly forget her son’s face?
That night I wrote on my blog about how terrible I was feeling. A friend in Colorado commented and said that she would pray that my next day would bring me some hope. That night I dreamed of Christian for the first time. My Earth and his Heaven had collided for a brief moment and we were together again. He was alive and well. I had found him and his friends. They were writing their names in the sand on one of Heaven’s beaches. As I looked down at their names Christian and his two friends ran off giggling with fun and laughter. I watched him disappear into the sand dunes and as I looked back down at his name in the sand the water came in and took his name out to sea. Then I woke up.
The next day keeping the dream to myself I picked up my little point and shoot digital camera and late that afternoon as the sun was beginning to set I drove down to the beach to write Christian’s name in the sand for the first time. It was an epic sunset to my surprise. I hadn’t seen a sunset since the day he was born. I wrote his name and started taking some photos. I remember standing in the water praying. I wondered if I should start doing this for people that I know have experienced the death of their babies and children. As I left the beach I blew a kiss out to the sea and drove to my parents house. I loaded the photos onto their computer. I showed my Dad “Oh that is really nice Pod” (He calls me Pod – long story) I told my parents that I was thinking of doing this for families who have lost children and that I was hoping that I might be able to do around 3 names each week for families here in my home town of Perth.
3 years and 4 months later I have written and photographed the names of 14,224 babies and children who are no longer here with us on Earth. I now spend any spare time that I have drawing butterflies, dragonflies and now peace doves in the sand on my son’s beach. My wait list is constantly filled with names of children from all over the world. It is tragic and beautiful all at the same time. I never imagined this would become my life.
I was given my creative gift from my grandad and even though it may have been taken away from me and that it took Heaven and Earth to come together to give it back to me, my son is the reason I am able to spend every sunset doing what I love so much. Art.
Writing, drawing and photography has helped me to heal and enriched my life in ways that I cannot explain. It has forced me to step outside into the fresh air and notice the beauty that mother nature creates for us. We live in an amazing world and as devastating as it can be, it is still incredible. My life began again on that Winter’s afternoon of 2008 when I finally picked up my camera.
I find my son through my artwork. We have a relationship. I might not be able to touch him but I know he visits me at the beach – he sends me dolphins and leaves me butterfly shells. I can only imagine the place that he now calls home.
I would like to thank Beryl my Faces of Loss Faces of Hope girlfriends for inviting me to share here in this International Creativity Month. I am so honoured and humbled.
Today I am giving away a beach photograph set today, it includes a Sand and Sunset Butterfly and a Name In The Sand.
If you would like to enter please leave a comment below.
Entries will be accepted until Thursday, February 2nd and a winner will be announced on the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope Facebook page on Friday February 3rd.
With love and blessings to you all for 2012,
Founder of Project Heal