Art is a Gift of Dialogue

Jory des jardins, Kids & Art Advisor

Jory Des Jardins holds a special relationship with Kids & Art. As an advisory board member, she helps steward our mission. Our pick for December's Author of the Month, Jory comments on her personal link with founder, Purvi Shah, and recounts her own journey through losing a family member to cancer. Sharing her look back at the early days, one thing is sure. She has truly seen the evolution of Kids & Art and she continues to help us fulfill our mission: bringing what she calls here 'the gift of dialogue' through art to our families.

Ten years ago my father passed away from stomach cancer. He had been sick for a while but didn’t let on to his pain until he fell over, and we took him to a doctor. After some tests, we were told that my father had about six weeks to live. We had to quickly prepare ourselves for life without him. While my family struggled with this news, my father seemed resigned to being gravely ill; he didn’t want to talk about being sick, let alone how he felt about dying. He died three weeks after the prognosis.

During this intense, emotional time I received a lot of well meaning advice about getting closure and making sure “loose ends were tied.” I had no idea what that meant; I didn’t know what to say or do around my father; how to help him from mentally, emotionally, and spiritually checking out. A big talker, my father had gone silent, and he resisted attempts to connect. He requested that no one in our extended family come to see him in his final days, making our impending loss even harder on us.

I look back at that time and wish I had a way of reaching my Dad, of knowing what was in his head. In his final days all I could do was watch him watch the wall and hope that he was at peace.

It was around this time 10 years ago that I met Purvi Shah. Purvi had helped to design the branding for my company, BlogHer. But rather than stay on with the team and continue building the company, she took on a much more important mission, supporting her 3-year-old son, Amaey, whom she discovered had Leukemia.

Over the years that my company grew, I checked in on Purvi and on Amaey’s progress in therapy. Sometimes there was good news, sometimes not. But there was always art to look at on her Facebook page. I didn’t quite understand why. I just thought the art made me happy. I always wondered how her family coped. By now, I had kids of my own and wondered how I would cope if I were in the same situation.

After Amaey passed away, Purvi came back to work with us. She told me about Kids&Art, the power that the creation process had for her family, and her desire to see more families experience what hers did. I started to comprehend the power of art in healing. Having gone to a workshop myself, I saw how the process of creation enabled me to be in the present and be a kid again with a blank canvas. I remembered what it was like again to need to express.

It’s my belief that we all yearn for beauty and have a shared understanding of it. We all have a capacity to create it. I want my kids to have the release of art in their lives, especially in times when their experiences are indescribable. Art is that thread of expression and understanding. It is a moment of peace.

Art is a gift of a dialogue when words can’t express. It heals us emotionally and spiritually. I support many organizations that focus on research and the science of illness, but Kids&Art reaches this place I could not access when my family was touched by cancer, ten years ago.