Last Friday morning I dropped my kids to school, with a million arrangements in place for them to stay with friends for the weekend, then I left for the airport. I was travelling to Hobart for the opening of 'A Beauty That Catches' my current exhibition. My youngest, aged 9, had packed her bag days before in excitement - complete with swimmers (just in case), a teddy and unbeknownst to me, family photos.
That evening l received a text message from my daughter's 'adopted mum' to say she was lying in bed, looking at her photos before going to sleep. She sent me a picture of one of the photos which was of my mum, my grandmother and me.
When I saw the photo and thought of my little girl thousands of kilometres away, lying in a different bed studying this and other photos of her loved ones, I felt tenderness tighten my chest, vulnerability quickened my breath. Had I deserted my daughter who was now pining and alone without me?
I grappled to understand, but as I became curious I remembered that my daughter was actually doing what she did most nights. She was not feeling lost, or abandoned. Instead she was gazing at the photos as a way of affirming her place in all of our hearts and ours in hers. My beautiful little girl was validating her familial world, where she belongs and is accepted unconditionally. In that moment I realised she'd be okay, not just for the weekend, but in all of life, because she already knows and values what truly matters.
And was the Hobart exhibition a success? Well, if I measure success by my daughter's yardstick, then yes it was. I saw hearts touched by my paintings and Tony Brennan's poems. I experienced affirmation and validation for my passion and I spent time with people I love.