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Dear Supa,

Tonight, I was browsing through Facebook and I noticed someone posted a picture of their kid making a valentine. I burst into unexpected tears as I was flooded with the memory of the valentines-making party you held in February 2006. I thought about a night I hadn't thought about in a long time -- how we made great art as expressions of love; how happy Gavin was. I wanted to share that memory with you.

(heart) (heart) (heart)

I'd nearly forgotten too, so I cried, too. That last year, as things started more quickly to fall apart, I hosted a party. I invited everyone (not just artists... neighbors, and kids, and church friends) to come over and glue things together. I presented them with our dining room table, stretched to seat 10, covered with an array of blank notecards and pretty much everything red or white I could find (art supplies of every type, odd bits of fabric, beads) and every damn sticker in the house, including cows, tiny ants, and giant Hello Kitty decals. It was what we had.

We used to host collage parties once in a while; sophisticated and very drunken versions had been part of Gavin's bachelor artist life. They had an idea of "collage" as a philosophy of life, maybe the opposite of deconstructionism: find an object and put it with another, apply glue, smoothe the seams. There were quiet collages that called moods, and rowdy Mardi-Gras'-on-Bainbridge-board wherein the man (or woman) holding the glue would cut up and stick together pornographic playing cards, calendar pages, snapshots of strangers, candy wrappers, and their own discarded, preferably torn, drawings.

One of my survival instincts is: if you don't know what to do, invite people to be messy with you. February 14, 2006, was a day when we projected. We put our love down on paper and we used anything we wanted. My little girl, barely 2, created some notable compositions, quieter than I expected, each complete and clearly satisfying to her. Nellie, our beloved babysitter, came with most of her family. A few artists, a few beers, and we had a party.

That February was one of the months Gavin "lived" on the couch under the eroding spell of Nexavar... he was not happy most of the time. But that evening, he shone to see people. It was the right kind of energy to bring into the house.

I could not keep it together that February, as Gavin died, none of us could say the right thing, ever, but somehow, gluing things on paper and sharing our confusion with everyone I could find was the right thing to do.

(This year, we did a quiet celebration, Mr. Fresh and Shortie and I. We weren't fighting off any immediate disasters, but we could have ice cream with crumb cakes and I cut a few dozen strawberries into hearts to ornament the plates. Hence, the image above. This year, getting by, showing love, takes a different form. 

I have those valentines from 2006 somewhere, but I want to relish these cut up berries just as much because that's what this February has been about... plus they were delicious.)

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