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"...Can't..."

Becky Jasinski Lafoon

"...Can't..."

"This piece, which I call "...can't...", was created for a show that took place during the summer of 2010 on the theme of Addiction and Art. At that point in time, my baby sister, at a mere 25 years old, was battling a serious, debilitating and frightening autoimmune disease that affected her central nervous system. With fear and anxiety over her future overwhelming her, it was clear that she was once more heading down her well-worn path towards active addiction. More fragile than ever, I could sense her slipping away as I had so many times before. I generated "...can't..." as I was trying, once more, to reach in. Was it possible to get to her, to make her understand, to stop the destruction through art? I cannot imagine that it was a coincidence that the show's opening was scheduled to take place on the same weekend as a pre-planned visit by her to Maryland from Ohio. My sister was in attendance on that angry hot evening in the 100 plus year old building that housed the show on opening night. She, wanting to stay and sharing me, was the one who sacrificially lingered despite the discomfort the heat caused her with her illness, while other friends and family members driven out by heat, understandably left after devoting appropriate attention to the event. It was my sister who was there to proudly cheer for me as I received a juror's award for "...can't...". Then, when I was asked if I would like to read my poem or have someone else read it, it was her little shout of "Yoooou read it!", coming from the crowd, that encouraged me to deliver my words with my own voice. She snapped pictures as I read and later snatched my cell phone to call our mother and excitedly announce - what she called - Becky's Big Accomplishment. She was so proud that night, and in many ways, in those moments, we were closer than any two people on earth had ever been. Driving home that evening, she told me how happy she was to see me doing art and writing again - that she knew that that was what I was supposed to be doing and needed to be doing. Days later, she returned to Ohio for a speaking and singing engagement. She stood before an audience of people seeking to sharing a message of healing and hope to others struggling with addiction. Despite these efforts, so typical of her, to save others, she could not save herself. Barely days after the speaking engagment, just over a week after the beautiful sharingd moments at the opening of the Addiction and Art show, my nightmare came true, my baby sister, Jessica Anne, was dead. I rushed to Ohio to guide and sharing my parents through the shock and horror of making final arrangements for our beautiful Jessica. Rather than wallow in the pain of that great tragedy, I worked to make our goodbye a celebration of her life. My love for her gave me courage and motivation to continue her battle to help others caught up in addiction, in the days after the final service and her cremation, I returned to Maryland to speak of her at the closing of the Addiction and Art show. Weeks later, I wasn't particularly surprised when it was confirmed that she had died of a heroin overdose. I had been able to tell that she was "nodding" when I spoke to her on the phone the day before her death. I had been warning family for weeks, had known it was coming, known she was slipping. Then, of course, there had been those burned spoons and hypodermic needles with a liquid that did not resemble the medicine she had been prescribed found near her body. It had all been fairly undeniable, as much as we wanted to deny it. Today, the work that I created out of my love for her, is charged with inexplicable emotion. The title, "...can't...", itself, was always intentionally vague, so that they might deliver a message unique and appropriate to the individual. It now speaks to me in a new way, reminding me that I couldn't save my sister, she couldn't save herself, and though I can't see or be with her anymore, we are forever connected. There is now so much that I can't do with and for her, but I CAN bring honor to her memory by continuing her work of helping others caught in the whirling painful clutches of addiction".