Searching through the piles of dirtied towels, blocks of sandpaper, and used Clorox wipes, I finally grasp the small metal paint key. I place its tiny lip into the rim of the quart sized can. With a flick of my wrist and a pop, off comes the lid. I place it on the old, yellowing bed-sheet splayed across the cool kitchen counter.
The thick white liquid sits in the quart sized can, bubbling up at me after being shaken in its tiny vessel. My movements blended and mixed the pigment meant to cover up dark cherry stain.
I catch myself staring as I stand at the small entrance to our kitchen, hips leaning sideways against the center island.
In just ten seconds, thoughts and memories bounce through my brain.
This is the same kitchen where we unpacked wedding gifts wrapped in parchment paper along with our young-married hopes and dreams. The same kitchen where we prepared my dad’s last meal – blood-red steak and garden salad and steaming baked potatoes with melty butter. He broke a red wine glass that evening – promised to buy me another one to complete the set.
There sit three goblet glasses still, the empty space signifying his presence in my same kitchen.
The same kitchen were I bake grief cookies and our friends and family gather for homemade pasta in remembrance of him. Other evenings we lift gin and tonics to the memory of our European adventures where we reclaimed pieces of ourselves on London’s city streets and in fields simmering with Spain’s sunshine.
The same kitchen where I’ll spoon feed a baby mashed carrots or pick up spaghetti thrown onto the floor by a child who has my dad’s eyes or curly hair.
This is a space not marked with trauma, but with comfort. With life-giving sustenance and floors with crumbs of recovery and laughter and places to lean when on the phone, chopping carrots or peeling back the layers of an onion. Paper plates and Crate and Barrel china and candles changing scents with the seasons.
I grab the wooden handle of the paintbrush off of the black granite and run the brushes bristles over my palms. Soft and soothing, a few strokes back and forth bring me back to the present.
I dip the bristles into the white and turn my wrist against the can’s rim, just like dad taught me, to remove the excess. I turn to face the wooden cabinets recently cleaned of layers of oil and grime and dust.
As I press my brush to the surface of the cabinet door I hear Dad whisper, “Remember to let your tools do the work for you.”
Moving paint on wood has a different feel than paint on plaster.
I’m not covering these doors up in the same way I did the basement.
This project is different.
Each stroke is empowering – I have a say and power in creating a space where I can be comforted and nourish others. I will delight in the light dancing off white cupboards. No more absorbing light into dark cherry stain.
What a beautiful thing.