Updated: Mar 19
The time we spent at the hospital, at the ICU, was difficult for everyone. My mother was able to travel the day after the accident. Her “Calvary” had returned darker and more painful than ever, and, yet. I felt nothing. I guess it was my defense mechanism, or the fact that I felt I had to be strong for her. I just remember not crying.
I do recall having taken my sketchbook with me on the trip. I never left home without it. This book became my oasis, and where my artistic language was born. Realistic looking hearts with bleeding aortas, open wounds, spinal cords, things of that nature started to appear in my art journal. Visions of heaven and hell, light and dark, were there as well. I became obsessed with the flesh and the spirit.
I must have gotten angry at God, but I know I was growing closer to Him. My Catholic faith was coming through but there were also signs of another kind of spiritual awareness. Black and white labyrinths and twisted floors were one of my favorite things to draw. I now understand them as part of my visual language. They represent our duality. By twelve my style was defined. I was a surrealist.
At this time we had to return to Colombia. Carlos was out of the hospital and his condition required 24/7 assistance, and money. The only way for my mom to make enough was for us to return and for her to reopen her dance studio.
I was sent ahead of them and given the responsibility to install ramps in the house, prepare Carlos’ room, posting ads promoting the dance studio, and taking calls for registration. I believe I was thirteen.
Have I mentioned that my mother is my heroine? She worked at the dance studio for eleven hours a day and at night she took care of Carlos. That meant catheterization, shifting his weight in bed and everything else that comes with taking care of a quadriplegic.
Life was not easy, but the show must go on. My life became “normal”. We all got into our routines. My old school, Marymount, found out about our hardship and gave me a full scholarship so I could attend.
Sister Johanna, the director, even took the time to come to my house to ask me back to school. She not only gifted me with tuition, but with the uniforms, books, and even a crucifix pendant to wear with a necklace.
I went back to dancing and continued exploring my visual world.
I don’t recall how it came to me, but by fifteen I read, what I considered, the first book that got me started upon this new spiritual search. I say “new” because I had always been searching for a relationship with God, even since I was a little girl.
This time something was different. I was older so now I was questioning everything. The book was “Love” by Leo Buscaglia. I am terrible at remembering names, but I have never forgotten this author’s name or how I felt reading his book. It came at the right time. It did not take away all of my anger, but it gave me hope.
By sixteen we were able to come back to the States. We knew Carlos was better off in Miami where he had accessibility to spinal cord advances in medicine.
I was accepted to a Visual Arts high school, New World School of the Arts. I was exposed, for the first time, to print making, ceramics and photography, as well as painting and drawing. It was a wonderful experience because it seemed as if all of us, weird, creative adolescents, had found our niche. By this point art had become more than just painting pictures. It was a fantastic psychiatrist and a cheap one too.