I think we had been working together for about six months, and I had mostly been feeling better. But suddenly it was fall, and I was feeling apocalyptically bad. I couldn’t stop crying.
“This is what healing looks like,” said E, very gently.
I kept crying. A great sodden pile of tissues filled up the wastebasket between us. At some point I noticed that she was smiling. “Why?” I asked. “Why are you smiling like that, when I’m so miserable?”
“My heart is singing,” she said. She was looking at me like I was a very new baby who had just done something totally amazing, like maybe unleashed a tiny little belch.
I cried all the way home. When I got home, I got in the shower to avoid having to explain to Dave why I was crying. I couldn’t explain it. It just kept happening. So I cried and cried and cried in the shower. I wondered how I was ever going to be able to stop. And then I remembered E telling me that her heart was singing.
“Would it sound like a robin?” a voice in my head wondered. I was so surprised by the thought, which didn’t even seem to be mine, that I stopped crying. And I started thinking about my next sculpture.
I always knew that someday I would make one with a bird inside it. I didn’t know until that moment that the bird would be E’s heart.
Before I placed it in its cage, I took it to her office to show it to her. She held it and fussed over it for a long time. It was her turn to cry, and my turn to grin until my face almost fell off.
Everything she said about it was something I might have said about her. It might have been the best moment I’ll ever have as an artist.