Trade Winds

Whoa! I had to write a letter of appreciation for your work on the painting called Trade Winds. I met my wife, Astrid, when I was visiting Norway as an exchange student, nearly 30 years ago. The first time I saw her, she was walking along a fjord with a small group of friends; the wind blowing in her hair. Although she wasn’t naked at the time, it wasn’t hard for me to imagine her that way!  

Her hair, down to her waist at the time, was so blond it looked nearly silver. No offense to Pitre, but she was even more beautiful than the woman in the painting. And she had an ethereal presence, one that didn’t lessen when I got to know her. If anything, she became more angelic with each passing day. I never understood why she chose to spend her life with a guy who restores motorcycles, but I’m glad she saw something in me that was worth keeping around for all those years.

She’s an angel now, a real one, after losing her battle with breast cancer. She had a rare BRCA mutation that was found specifically in Norway. She said the carriers of each of the four mutations are descendants of a few individuals who survived the Bubonic plague. The “superior” genes that kept her ancestors alive, mutated and began infecting mostly women from certain parts of Norway, one being the South-West coast, where my wife was born.

It has been five years since I lost Astrid and I’d like to say I’ve been fine, but the truth is, I miss her every day. This painting is the first thing to bring me a little bit of hope about the possibility of her living on in some way. The body of the woman in Trade Winds is nearly identical to the figure my wife had… before her double-mastectomy and before she was reduced to skin and bones. 

Her physical changes had no effect on how much I loved or desired her, but knowing how much pain she went through to try and survive for our children and me is hard to swallow. To be able to see a healthy and whole reflection of my wife in the painting brings a degree of peace. It allows me to rewind to the days before the diagnosis, when she radiated health; now I can think of her existing in a different way, one without suffering.

There’s something about the clouds in the painting too, like they’re filled with answers to questions I have, like why her, where is she now, does she miss us, will we meet again? There’s meaning in the clouds, and even though I don’t know what it is, my curiosity is somehow put to rest knowing there are answers… I just can’t know them yet. To me, that is an answer.

Trade Winds changed my perspective about losing my wife. Instead of continuing to mourn the loss of her, I’m going to feel grateful for having found her in the first place. Who else can say they met the love-of-their-life at the top of a fjord in Norway? And, I spent three decades in the presence of a phenomenal woman. Most people go their whole lives without finding real love. Not only did I have it, I was lucky enough to see it reflected in her beautiful blue eyes.

Thanks for painting Trade Winds, it’s as if you brought my wife’s spirit back to life and I’m on cloud nine for the first time in years. My kids even noticed the change in me and asked about it. All that I could say was, I found a painting that told me your mom’s doing great. That got them talking. Not an easy thing to do with teenagers. Thanks, man.

P.S. I’ll have some explaining to do when my kids ask why the naked lady reminds me of their mother! Ha, ha, ha!!!

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