"Rachael" 9 inches by 12 inches; ink on paper, $125
When I was 22 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although physically and emotionally painful this experience turned out to be the catalyst for the life that I wanted to have. The experience of cancer itself feels irrelevant now. However, what is extremely relevant to me is the way it changed me, the rebirth within me.
As soon as I finished treatment I was eager to move forward with my life and I did. I felt my growth and transformation. I finished my undergraduate degree and continued working towards my career and life goals.
While house-sitting at a beautiful home on Lake Erie, I developed a fever and was hardly able to move for a few days. Luckily the room where I rested was all windows and my view was clear. It was a particularly cold February and the lake was completely frozen. It was so beautiful, so quiet, so still. I remember no sound and no proof of life beyond myself. It was an amazing time of forced stillness and sensory and social deprivation. It was a time of unintentionally going inward and just being there, alone.
Once my fever broke and I emerged, I couldn’t help but see this experience as a metaphor for my life. Soon the lake would change form. The ice would melt and break apart. The water beneath would come through, moving the frozen, snow covered pieces and forming new structures, structures that would also change as the temperature did. The water would continue to move and gain power as it warmed. The perfection in this process was striking, although violent at times.
This is how I felt. My life had reached a state of visible movement and clarity. I was no longer trying to experience life through a thickness that skewed the light. There was no room for stagnancy. There was no space for wasted time or for unhappiness. There was no more mental, emotional or physical energy available for falling into old patterns or behaviors. My life had become about the will of my Higher Power in a way that I never could have understood had I not faced this illness. This experience allowed me to do the work necessary to break cycles and to really learn to live.
Debra Wuliger, figurative artist working with color, texture and pattern to celebrate life.
Image silhouetted with story. Ready for hanging.