In 2011 life pushed me into an awakening of my being, and without knowing my spiritual journey began.
I became a caretaker for my father in law who was fighting a battle with skin cancer.
The experience made me feel sad and helpless. The feelings of helplessness and dark thoughts were unstoppable. I questioned God and wondered why I had to go through this experience.
In my life, I have bravely overcome terrible illnesses and significant losses. But in particular, this experience I did not understand. What were the lessons I was supposed to learn, and where were these experiences leading me to and why? I was not prepared to go through this path! I felt so unprepared.
How could I help, save, and banish the horrible disease from his body? How could I make him feel a little bit better? So, I did the best I could. We spent a lot of time driving to the hospital, and during our time together, he told me his life stories and to get through the tough moments we mostly laughed.
And just like that, one rainy day at Johns Hopkins Hospital, everything became crystal clear. I was with Shapour while he was getting his routine chemo infusions.
Shapour’s procedure took 6 hours, and sometimes, he would fall asleep while he was getting the infusion.
I would sit, watch him, and wait until the last drop entered his body.
One day while I was watching him sleep, I started to focus my attention on his infusion drops. Drop by drop- I began to imagine and daydream how each drop would come down from the iv bag into a small white plastic chamber and slowly go through the long transparent plastic tube right into the thin grey plastic needle to finally enter his body.
I could see that it was a long, slow, and sleepy journey for each drop, but in my mind, it had a colorful ending. That night I came home and started to paint just what I had imagined.
I began to pretend that my paint and the water were the infusions and the paper was his body.
I used the most vibrant colors to paint my visions of the infusions entering his body.
I lost myself in my mind, feelings, and visions, and right in front of me, the series of infusions was born.
Thomas Merton was right. “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
Through these paintings, I found myself. I was able to transform the feelings of sadness, hate, and bitterness into love.
I started to understand the steep road, and my journey of Gratefulness began.
My paintings became the portrait of the drug that was treating Shapour. Doctors used them for presentations, and reproduction prints are gifts to them.
I never imagined that these paintings would take me around the world. They have been on exhibits in the US and Europe. Some are on private collections, and one even auctioned for cancer research.
From those trips, I have some fantastic adventures to tell, met some incredible people that are now my dearest friends, and created initiatives that promote the arts and culture that are now my life's purpose.
In the beginning, I thought I was saving Shapour, but in the end, he is the one that saved me.