Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Kathlyn's Room, Elizabeth Davis

Kathlyn's Room
Beth Davis
Photography Series


Photo 1: the original, my daughter's room.

Photo 2: In January, six months after the death of my daughter, I suffered the excruciating physical pain of a kidney stone on top of the still-raw emotional pain of the holidays. Thinking of Still Life 365, I decided to start coloring my daughter's room. I just colored in the entire sheet of paper in hopes that the repetitive motion would distract me from the pain. I was embarrassed and frustrated because it looked more like a child drew it than an adult, but I remembered that my pastor told me to "live two lives" one for me, one for her, so this is the coloring my child never did.

Photo 3: The next version I used only paper, scrapbooking supplies, and glue, since the first was done completely drawn in colored pencil.

Photo 4: With no pain relief, I just kept going. Made using Microsoft Paint.

Photo 5: The emotional pain and raw grief was still winning once the kidney stone was cleared up. Overwhelmed and seeking help, I was in two forms of therapy at the same time: one was a group of four bereaved couples at an organization called Kindermourn, and just days after making the first versions of Kathlyn's room, the group was asked to make an art piece during one of the meetings. We could draw, use magazines, glue, scissors, write, whatever we wanted. Photo 5 was the result. It was drawn except for one piece, the pink poodle puppy. We had a pink poodle for her before she was born, which went into her casket, but we buy every pink puppy we ever see now. I was amazed when I had finished the art piece, I picked up a magazine just to see if there was anything there to add, and found that pink puppy.

Photo 6: A few days later, in my other group therapy in an outpatient hospital setting, we were also asked to do a piece of art. One one side of the paper, we were asked to draw "where we are now" and on the other side "where we want to be." Photo 6, the first side, was her room again, without color. The lamp is turned off. There is a broken heart. The baby monitor is unplugged. The toys and books are neatly on the shelf. The bouncy seat is in her room, unused, like it still sits in there to this day. My husband said, after our loss, that he felt like he had "flatlined", so there is a flat line, a stopped heart, at the top.

Photo 7: This represented "where I want to be." The heart is still broken, but beating now. There's color. The toys are a mess, played with. The bouncy seat is now in the living room, being used, where it belongs, gone from her room. The colorful lamp with all it's bulbs on the shelf, is turned on, and the monitor is plugged in.


about the contributor.
By night, Elizabeth Davis is a pediatric registered nurse. By day, she is relearning how to breathe after the death of her daughter Kathlyn. Beth describes her writing and blog, "Safety is a big issue for me and often appears in my writing.  I have to be safe in my job in the care I provide as a nurse.  My husband is a police officer and I tell him to be safe every time he leaves or we say goodbye on the telephone.  My blog title reflects how important I view safety.  I'm always apologizing to my daughter and begging her for signs that she's safe wherever she is.  I would have kept her safe here too... I would have done my best, anyway, and I didn't mean to fail her the way I feel I did, so I'm constantly looking for signs that she's safe." Elizabeth maintains the blogs Safe in This House and Letters to my Daughter


  1. These are fabulous.You can see the process you are working through so clearly. Thank you for sharing. (Oh and I personally love the childlike manner in which they have been created.)

  2. I really like this series. I think they look MORE like life than a "perfectly" rendered sketch would.

  3. i love seeing the progression here. really fascinating. thank you for sharing it with us. xo


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