Have you ever looked back at a journal you kept when you were younger? Once you get past any embarrassing stuff you may have written, it can serve as a beautiful snapshot of different periods in your life. Your high school years, your college days, or perhaps your time spent falling in love and starting a family.
The best part about keeping a journal is that it’s never too late to start, which is exactly what former Disney illustrator Gary Andrews decided to do on his 54th birthday. His “doodle diary,” which included one sketch each day, documented his life as a happily married father-of-two living in the UK. Unfortunately, life can change in an instant, and the next three years would see him lose his wife to a life-threatening condition called “sepsis.”
Gary was away on a work trip to Canada at the time that his wife, Joy, fell ill. At first, doctors believed that it was nothing more than the flu, but when her condition worsened, Gary got on the next flight home. By the time he arrived back in the UK, Joy was gone.
Still reeling from the news of his wife’s death and overcome by grief, Gary turned to the one thing he knew best: drawing. He explained to the Daily Mail:
I was crying so hard it was difficult to focus on the page. I was drawing through tears. Joy had been my soulmate for 19 years. She was beautiful, kind, generous and funny. We did everything together. When I lost her, I felt half of me had gone.
Despite his horrible loss, Gary never skipped a day in his doodle diary. Instead, he captured the most difficult period of his life in his notebook – pouring every ounce of his pain, sadness, and love into beautiful illustrations. His daughters and Joy are a big part of his daily doodles, and they helped him find the strength to continue in what sometimes felt like hopeless times.
There are over 200,000 cases of sepsis in the United States alone each year, but it can still be very difficult to identify. That’s why Gary hopes to raise awareness of this silent killer. He also doesn’t blame any of the doctors involved for what happened to Joy.
From the minute Joy was admitted to hospital, specialists from every department tried to find out what was wrong. They couldn’t have done more. It wasn’t until the post-mortem that they narrowed it down to sepsis.
Today, Gary is raising two wonderful daughters on his own and documenting the whole journey in doodles that he uploads to Twitter.
I just want to move forward. To honor Joy’s memory and bring up our kids in a way she would have approved of.
You can check out some of Gary’s powerful doodles down below.
Next, look at what happens when kids and parents doodle together.
This Dad Turns His Sons’ Doodles into Awesome Anime Characters