Why I *RedBubble*

It was a cold December night in Missouri; I felt like I was the only one still breathing. My only company was the whispers of ghosts in my head. I had forgotten how to feel anything other than remorse. Grief had implanted itself into my feet and slowly wound itself around every other part of my being, choking out any possibility for other feelings.

You see, I was losing myself. I am a needed person with a group of family and friends that look to me for many things. By day I had to be who I always was. I had no choice but to get out of bed and do what I had to do; much like the lonely lamp post at the end of my street, it comes on every night at dusk, whether it wants to or not. Nobody asks if it wants to shine – they expect it and so shine it does.

Inside of myself I was bleeding pain. You see, in November of 2008 I lost one of the most important people in my life. Her name is Hillarie, she was only 19, and she was my beautiful niece. We were closer than a typical aunt/niece relationship, as she spent much of her life with me.

Hillarie was diagnosed with a heart problem when she was 1 ½ years old. We were told she wouldn’t have a long life, as her condition was extremely rare. When she was 6 she had a pacemaker installed. When she was 9 we received the greatest gift of all – a new heart. I say ‘we’ because while the heart was to keep her going, she kept us going.

Experiences like this make you see life in a different way. It makes you much more sensitive to the little things that make life so wonderful. But with time, you take it for granted that person will be there. It is hard for your mind to accept there isn’t a ‘tomorrow’. We had so many tomorrows. Hillarie grew into a beautiful, creative young woman wise beyond her years.

But last fall we received terrible news; Hillarie was in rejection. Long story short, after a few months of declining health and way of life, we lost her. Somehow, with all this history, the loss was still unexpected. She had been in rejection before and came out of it. In fact, this was her history, to beat the odds. I wanted to believe this would be the case again. But she was tired this time. She told her friend in secret that she was ready to go. Knowing this, afterwards, killed me – especially knowing that she knew… and that she didn’t tell me.

On that cold December night, I was plundering the internet looking for anything to quiet my mind. It was more of a perfunctory experience than anything else. I came across some digital art that blew me away and I had to see more of this artists work. He had a link to his RedBubble portfolio. This moment was the lifejacket that kept me from drowning.

I have been experiencing RedBubble for almost a year now. I can honestly say that RedBubble has had a profound impact on my life and changed me in many ways. There is a significant piece of me that was resurrected because of my experience here; I found the parts of me that had disappeared.

Along the way I also found bits and pieces that I had lost years before from neglecting myself. You see, I wrote my first poem when I was 6 years old. While it wasn’t an Emily Dickinson, writing has been an essential part of who I am since I can remember. Despite this, being a working mom took its toll – I hadn’t written in 5 years at all, and the 5 years prior to that were somewhat bulimic…. Periods of a few days trying to write months worth of thoughts down on paper to make up for the many months of not writing at all.

While I will always have a hole in my heart with Hillarie’s name on it, finding the Bubble reminded me of the beauty in life and that it’s my responsibility to do and see as much as possible for both her and my own children.

I decided to journal this as a preface for the next scribblings I’ll be sharing. I plan on writing regularly to share with you things and people on the Bubble that inspire me. I want my fellow Bubblers to understand how profoundly their art and their friendship have affected me. This isn’t just a place to come and spend some time looking at pretty things. My soul has grown and I have sprouted wings from the community that resides here. I have a thankful heart, and I feel much appreciation for the gifts I have been given, the resources that have allowed my ache to be soothed, and the outlet provided to spill my ink and share my thoughts.

I love the Bubble and hope to see all of you for years to come.

Patty Jo


In loving memory of Hillarie Dawn Horine
March 1989 – November 2008



5 thoughts on “Why I *RedBubble*

  1. This is moving beyond words. You have deeply touched me as you have shared your and Hillarie’s journey. Sometimes as we manage what is going on at RedBubble we lose sight of why we do it. You remind me. You remind me of the absolute depth of human experience and the need to honour it. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your niece who lived so profoundly.
    (cofounder at RedBubble)

    • CheyAnne, I have been a little behind in responding to my blog comments. 2010 new years resolution – respond asap! Thank you so much for letting me know that my story touched you. I hope you continue to visit this blog, as I aim to share as many touching and inspirational works as I come across. xx

  2. An online community/virtual gallery, but so much more. Thank you for sharing with us your very personal journey, the one that led you to the Bubble. I absolutely love it and I’m thankful for sharing GB’s of fun, art and voices with you.

  3. Hey PJ, I have been reminding myself of what I want to achieve through the TBF blog – gosh, this is it! So true to the view of things which inspire us and make us feel, no matter how painful. You are such a wonderful person – I applaud you and am in awe of your strength darling heart xoxo

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