When you’re in my situation, you never know when that sneaky monstrous grief will just appear out of nowhere and flatten you like the proverbial pancake. That happened to me last night. May is my really tough month. I’ve already made it through my wedding anniversary, Mother’s Day and my oldest dead friend’s birthday. Up next is my 70th birthday on Monday and the 4th anniversary of Michael’s death on the 28th. One more deep breath and there’s his birthday on June 5th. Then I’ll be able to slide back into the version of life I’ve created for myself without my partner. So last night I was looking to continue the seemingly endless process of downsizing, which is so daunting I don’t think I’ll ever be done. The project I decided to take on was weeding out the too many years of income taxes I’ve had stuffed in a file cabinet. I picked about eight years’ worth and figured I’d shred them will binge-watching a television series. Before long, I found myself getting deeply disturbed. The shredding became this giant overwhelming metaphor. I felt like I was tearing up whole years of my life, strip by strip. I kept looking at our signatures and the dates, remembering what happened during all those times. By the time I was finished, I loaded everything into the recycling bin, rolled it to the curb and went to bed miserable. I woke up feeling the same way and actually sobbed for awhile. I absolutely hate crying and always have; I can’t remember a single time I’ve ever felt better after purging myself. I think I’m better off digging in the dirt. In any case, I just felt awful this morning. So I decided to take my own advice which I hand out unsolicited on many occasions. After reading this book, The Mad Enchantment a few years ago, the story of Claude Monet’s obsession with painting his water lilies, I realized that although I had a cursory knowledge of artists and their work, I was wanting more. So I set off on this exploratory path, discovering artists I’d never known about and deepening my knowledge in a truly satisfying way. All the beauty is balm for my most achy days. And along with music, I’ve found my own quiet ways of patching myself up when the pain knocks me down. So I thought I’d share fifty paintings of the hundreds which have made a difference in my daily life. I hope you enjoy them.