In 2012, I lost my 19 year old son, Neal, to a motorcycle street racing accident. In a few months, he will have been gone for six years. I've had some time to live with the empty space left behind by the funny, intelligent, noisy, gentle giant I called my son. Grief has been replaced by a kind of acceptance. He's gone. This is how life works. I still mourn - but I more celebrate Neal's noisy, fast, short life. I talk about him like he's still here and can barely remember what a huge pain he was. I feel him, see signs, ask for - and get answers. Neal is as determined to be heard in the Afterlife as he was when he was here.
I've talked about creating a memorial collection for years. And talked. And talked. The challenges of running a business and the limitations of designing for pottery always seemed to keep it just out of reach. The truth is, I stopped designing for Museware - or for myself, years ago. The desire, the inspiration - both just faded away and I didn't know how to get them back.
It took a gentle reminder from friend and long-term employee, Nicole, to awaken me to the fact that I had detached. Checked out. That my company needed me. "You gotta design," she said. "It's what you do." Finally, given permission by someone I love, to do the work I love, I started designing again. Digitally. In full color. And gluing the results to the back of glass plates. Which got me, Nicole, and everyone else, wicked excited. I thought this collection would come sooner, but it came just in time.
Afterlife, is my first collection, the one closest to my heart. Others, for the usual gift-giving occasions - will follow. Through the design process, I came to believe that when words fail, and they often do, Afterlife sends the uplifting message that our nonphysical loved ones are nearby, loving and guiding us every day. Because they really are, and they really do.
They're everywhere - the people we love and think we've lost. They've just stepped through that doorway and we can't see them. To hear, to see, to feel - takes some intention and attention. Signs of life afterlife are everywhere. We just have to open our eyes, tune our ears - open our hearts to the quiet voice that speaks within. That voice comes from the heart - the very place we say we'll carry them, forever.