I started this blog to battle what felt like an intense case of burnout. It was a fun and successful adventure. I found my style and I survived my soul crushing day job long enough to take on my dream job.
It’s been quiet around here for some time. I try to get back to illustrating and making things, but something always seems to come up. And for a while, I have to admit, I was lost. I tried to keep it hidden away (and I fooled many people), but learning that my grandmother was fighting a horrifying battle against pancreatic cancer was tearing me up. It wasn’t fair that a woman who had done nothing but try her best to what was right and care for everyone around her had to face this demon. She was one of the last of my childhood heroes.
She was the inspiration for my “artsy” side. From the time I was 5, she encouraged me to sing duets with her in church and act with her in Sunday School plays. (I was painfully shy.) She encouraged me to keep drawing and writing when others saw it as a waste of time and criticized my work. And even shared some of her own writings and drawings with me.
I got the call in late September that they didn’t think she’d make it much longer. I packed up my stuff and raced back home to Zeeland. It was the longest drive I have ever taken (despite being the shortest drive home, ever), but I felt like I was in a race against death. If I could just get there first, she wouldn’t be so scared. It was my turn to protect her.
I made it there in time to see her and spend a few days with her. She was in and out of consciousness, and I was able to talk to her a bit. I knew her time was nearing the end, so each night I stayed at her side. I rarely left her side and in her last moments, I held her hand. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I wasn’t going to let her leave alone.
The pain of losing her is still quite fresh, but I’ve started to feel like me again over the last few days. I’ve started each day off with at least 1 hour of design time. It’s crazy how much I’ve missed illustrating, and how much better I feel when I am locked in trying to make my idea appear on the paper (or screen). Design saved me from burnout, so I’m hoping it will save me from the darkness.
So today’s illustration is one for my grandma, Jean Lucille Dykema.
Grandma was furious when holiday shopping started to take over Thanksgiving. So, I’ll be working on a special holiday treat for those of you who choose to skip the Thanksgiving day sales and spend time with your friends and family. (Details to come.)