collage, gouache and ink on paper
12 x 9 in.
I was six months old when my father died, so before I learned a single word, I knew about death. But as a child, the concept of death was unclear to me. I understood “not here,” but I didn’t understand anything about “forever.” I assumed, privately, that my father would come back some day, from wherever he was. I don’t remember a moment when I realized that wasn’t how it all worked — it was more of a slow unfolding of understanding, one that continues in some form to this day.
Of course, small children aren’t the only ones that feel baffled about the finality of death. Every belief system has some story about an ultimate reunion with a lost loved one, and an assurance that the loss represents a changed relationship, rather than a severed one.
The painting “Elegy Dance” is a response to the enormous losses we’ve all sustained in 2020, and my attempts to process and understand it.
© Alison Stein