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  • Writer's pictureChelsey Tucker

Ruby Blues : My Anthem Of Hope

Distraught. That’s how I would describe myself the morning I woke up and felt the all too familiar pain behind my eyes. I frantically hopped out of bed, turned on the lights and scanned the room to confirm my suspicion. It was as if I were looking through the lens of a pair of blurry, grayscale glasses. Although I had experienced vision loss before, this time was unlike any other. I was shocked at how profoundly impacted my vision seemed to be and the pain was excruciating.

I’m certain my Neurologist could sense my panic when I arrived at his office later that morning. A lengthy neurological exam confirmed what I already knew to be true and I was admitted to the hospital within the hour to treat for Bi-Lateral Optic Neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerves). I waited for nearly an hour for a room to be assigned. That hour provided me with just enough time for my thoughts to run wild and straight off the deep end. The timing of it all seemed incredibly cruel. I had only been home for 2 days since my last hospital stay and the idea of spending another moment away from my family was hard to stomach. I couldn’t contain my tears as I thought about their sweet faces and all the moments I was going miss out on. I thought about how unfair it was to my husband that I was sick. I thought about the faces of my friends and family and tried to cement their features in my mind. I was certain I’d never see them the same way again and the thought of forgetting what they looked like was crippling. Surely God had heard my cry for healing? I had prayed all the prayers and said all the things, why was this happening to me again? Within that same hour, I had also resigned myself to the fact that my days of painting were done. It was challenging enough painting before this; I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to even attempt creating anything with my sight being what it was. I was devastated. My world had been abruptly turned upside down again and I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare.

I spent 7 long days in the hospital before being discharged. I know I must have cycled through the stages of grief at least twice during my stay. There were moments when I couldn’t see beyond my anger. There were moments that felt so sad I thought my heart was going to break.

Although at times the silence seemed deafening, it also proved to be my best teacher. As time went on, I began to experience a small shift in perspective that left me more hopeful and curious about what my life could look like once I got home.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that my shift in perspective was helped along by a few of my very close friends. Although they may not have known it at the time, the words of encouragement they spoke over me were the very words I clung to in the times that felt the hardest. Of all the beautiful words that were spoken to me during that time, my mind would often wander back to the words that were said by my sister. As I meditated on what those words meant to me, they quickly became my personal anthem of hope.

Whatever it is you need to get from this, you’ll get it. You’ll get it and you will soar with it - Jerri

To my surprise, the transition home was relatively uneventful. Perhaps more surprising than the smooth transition, was the urgency I felt to paint so soon after arriving home. If I’m being honest, art wasn’t exactly a priority for me at the time. I hadn’t even unpacked my hospital bags and I certainly didn’t plan on picking up a paintbrush anytime soon. Clearly life had different plans for me that day and I found myself eager to create.

I like to describe what happened next as a divine collaboration. I don’t know if the inspiration found me or if I found the inspiration, but in the moment it felt like a collision that I couldn’t ignore. I knew the exact message I wanted to convey. I envisioned a tryptic guitar series that would represent the contrast of my life. The pieces would be loud, vibrant, chaotic and cohesive. I wasn’t sure how they would all come together but I knew that they would. Sure enough, they poured out of me as fast as I could paint them.

Ruby Blues, February 2019

I quickly realized that I didn’t need my eyesight to paint as much as I thought I did. I was creating with instinct and it all seemed to flow together. Any doubts I had about my artistic future had been hushed and Ruby’s creation proved that I was far more capable than I originally thought. I didn’t waste any time sharing the finished pieces with a few of my closest friends and family. Their feedback was an invaluable mixture of both excitement and celebration. I used the boost of confidence I received from their words and decided to post Ruby on a broader social media platform. I was amazed by the response I received and I soaked in every minute of it.

Ruby Blues finds a home at Carpe Cafe'

As luck would have it, Ruby Blues ended up being hung in a local coffee shop just outside of Nashville. I’m not exaggerating when I say the paintings were hung on the very same day they dried. It had been a dream of mine to have my art displayed in public but after losing my eyesight, that dream seemed nearly impossible. I’m sure you can understand why seeing my paintings displayed on the wall of that café brought a flood of emotions. I felt filled up and poured out and everything in between. Ruby represented far more than just a dream come true. For me, her song echoed the very words my sister had spoken to me just days before. Ruby was my anthem and I knew in that moment that no matter what life brought my way, I was going to soar.

"Rhythmic Ruby" and "Rhythm In Blues" come together to form "Ruby Blues"

Ruby Blues: Naming Credits

”Rhythm In Blues”- Chelsey Tucker

“Rhythmic Ruby” – Jerri Perry

“Ruby Blues” – Jerri Perry

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