Joy and Heartbreak on Black Velvet
Aaron had no idea how hurt I was over the painting. It was the second day of moving and we were trying to get the last of the stuff out of the apartment. In the closet in our bedroom was a black velvet painting of a mare and her foal in profile. Aaron hated it with an unholy passion. He just didn’t understand the significance of that painting for me. He was shocked when I burst into tears when he said he had damaged it accidentally and thrown it out. I ran to the dumpster
The painting had been in my life since I was very little. The horses represented Britches and Lil’ Britches, two Thoroughbreds mom had been training back in Texas. Mom had loved those horses and it had hurt her giving them up. That painting was all that was left of a particular point in time when she, dad and I were all happy together. It went with her after they divorced. It hung in her house with her new husband and family for years after. When she finally felt able to let it go, it went to me. I understood its meaning. I understood that part of her life since I had shared it. I understood the trust in giving it to me and the gesture of love it represented.
Aaron only saw it as an ugly black velvet painting. Anything on black velvet was simply tacky, tasteless and a thing to be endured. He wouldn’t let me hang it up in the apartment. What he really wanted was for me to toss it. Never once did he stop to ask why it meant so much to me. Sure, it had a couple gouges out of the paint. Ok, the black was a bit worn in some places. But it meant the world to me. The luminous eyes detailed in those to profiles held reflected memories for me. The white blaze down the noses was a reminder of those horses long gone. And they were a representation of a happier mother than any time since.
I reached into the dumpster and pulled out the distressed driftwood frame that held the painting safely for so many years. I had put the painting in the bedroom closet to try and protect it from any further damage until we got a place where I could hang it in my own space out of his immediate sight. For over a year it had lain against the back of the closet, twin eyes peering over the redwood table in front of them. There was no room for my altar either so that too lived in the closet. I burst into fresh tears as I saw the huge hole torn through it. It may as well have been a rent in my heart. I couldn’t see what I held in my hands any more, the tears blurred everything.
Aaron had followed me and was horrified by how hard I was crying. Between sobs, I told him why it was a big deal to me. He was crushed. It wasn’t his intention to hurt me or even the painting. He had just been a bit careless as he handled it. No real malice involved. He suggested we try to get it repaired. I thought about it as I held the frame in my hands. Then I said no as I lowered it back into the dumpster before ordering my reluctant fingers to let go. Done was done, past was past. It was time to let this piece of it go. But, as you can see, my mind still holds that painting, clear and fresh. That is the only reason I could let it go that day. It still exists within my heart, clean and undamaged even now.