I had posted about a week ago a painting that I had started that featured a childhood friend of mine named Terry. Here is a snapshot of the finished painting that Jacqi took yesterday. The color comes from the song Colours by Hot Chip. It has taken a long time for me to be able to do a painting of Terry; I have started and stopped many times over the years, but I suppose the emotions I felt were still too raw even now years later. He and I were the same age; I only saw him whenever he and I were in the hospital at the same time; nevertheless we saw each other quite a bit, and then suddenly he passed away. I considered Terry to be one of my very best friends; we talked about everything together, and yet I didn’t know he was dying. Terry was one of those people that always had a smile on their face; even if a slight one, and whenever I think of how he had held everything in and didn’t talk about what he was going through it makes me wish that I had been a better friend. Terry was only about 14 when he died; I didn’t find out about his death until after the funeral when a volunteer that we both liked a lot called me at home with the news. He said that Terry’s mother was there in an orange prison uniform with her arms and legs shackled, and his grandmother, who raised him, was inconsolable. I hadn’t known that Terry lived with his grandmother or that his mother was in prison. I suppose I could say something like we were just kids so how could I have known, but that has never sat well with me, and I think that this was why I couldn’t paint my friend. I felt I had let him down when he needed me.
All of this is very somber and morose, and to paint Terry I had to let that go because somber was the last thing he was. We played like crazy all over the hospital; Frisbee in the halls, video games, and it was a common sight to see Terry wheeling himself from his ward over to mine balancing a lap full of board games. When I think of this it makes me feel better, because maybe Terry just needed someone to play with. Lord knows I didn’t tell him about what tests or treatments the Dr.’s were doing on me; hanging out with Terry was a vacation from all of that. Perhaps he got the same from me; Lord I hope so. At any rate it has freed me up enough to finally draw his face, and it occurs to me, in an almost surprising way, how young he looks.
This painting will be a part of the Haley Henman show – the opening reception is July 31st at 7PM. After working on this painting it makes me a lot more appreciative of the friends that I have now – I am looking very forward to hanging out and talking to friends both old and new at the reception; I’m glad that Terry will be there – if even in a small way.