Language and Colour Could Never Begin to Describe You

By Emma Pearson

July 16, 2024

19 September 2019

Megan Devine’s Writing Your Grief prompt inviting us to write with colour as a starting point.

I have been dreading this prompt. I knew that it was coming, that it was relatively early in the 30 days of Writing Your Grief.  And even though I didn’t remember the detail of the prompt, I remembered Megan’s focus on “Blue”. And I was dreading it.

For a long time, Julia had said that “blue” (or some shade of blue) was her favourite colour, even though it wasn’t necessarily a colour I saw her wear much. Her email address was…. I am sure her account is still current. The 3003 was 30th March, her date of birth. And the blue was because it was her favourite colour at the time.

Over time, Julia expressed the full range of “favourite” colours. The concept of having a favourite colour was obvious and natural to her. It was a conversation starter. She was a child who, at the time that girls seem to go through this phase, went around asking people what their favourite colour was. They might be total strangers or bosom pals. She’d be most insistent on getting an answer, not accepting a boring adult’s answer of, “Well – it depends on the shade” or “It depends if you mean ‘to wear’ or ‘to look at’, etc.  (You can tell – I have always found it hard to answer the “favourite colour” question, but eventually settled on “orange” just to have an answer for her.

And it’s true – I love orange. And I also love blue. And green. And brown. And turquoise and indigo and cerulean and sapphire. And teal and sage and olive and emerald. And taupe and buff and cocoa and chocolate. I digress.

Julia didn’t worry that her favourites changed, and she always had one, even if it changed over time.

As she became more gender- and sexual-orientation aware, she professed to love the Gay Pride Rainbow flag. She stuck it in her bedroom. She drew it on books. She painted it on her face and that of her friends. And most irritatingly, she picked up on any potentially discriminatory language I used before it even popped out of my mouth.

Julia loved make-up – eye shadows and nail varnishes were particular favourites. She created art on her own and others’ faces. She once spent 2 full hours doing a full and very detailed piece of eye-shadow artwork on my face. It was a beautiful, gentle and sensitive experience. She took great care with her artwork. Sadly I looked pretty dreadful at the end of it because she’d included orange and yellow shades, and that doesn’t typically look good on 50+ year old skin.

She proclaimed, “Mum – you have snake skin!”, and when I explored what she meant, she said, “Well – you have lots of criss-cross wrinkles everywhere around your eyes. Like a snake’s skin”.  It was clear she was going to have to get more experience on “mature” (i.e post-teenage) skin if she was ever going to be a successful make-up artist.

I can’t limit Julia to a colour. I cannot limit a colour to Julia. Even the Gay Pride rainbow, with its blends of colours between each and every band, could never convey Julia’s richness, her depth, her creativity and sensitivity.

Though she was as bright and luminous, as effervescent and precious, as a rainbow.

And sadly, just as ephemeral.

Beautiful short video tenderly compiled by Julia’s cousin Isabelle.

About Emma Pearson

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