The first balloon ever released...

The first balloon ever released...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Painting

My best friend came into town this week from Utah and as usual had about 1,000 gifts to shower my family with. She is a very unique individual and extremely talented. One of her many talents is art. It is with this talent that she truly loves to show how much she cares and it is because of this we call her the "ultimate gift giver". You will never beat her in gift giving but your attempts are amusing. One example of her "gifts" to our family is when we first moved into our new home and I was in labor with Zoe. Everyone was at the hospital getting ready to meet cute little Zoe, where was my best friend? Painting all the bedrooms in my new house so that by the time we got home everything would be done and look amazing for our new little bundle of joy. Here are some pictures of the bedrooms before and after. P.S. I didn't even tell her what I wanted, she just came up with everything and nailed it perfectly.

Dominic's Room
 (No, that is not decal, she hand painted that!)
 (Yes, the superhero's are decal, still awesome)

Our Room

McKenna's Room
Now Zoe's room :(
I don't have a before but the room was just the pink bottom half you see going around the room.

This is just a small example of how awesome my friend is so you can imagine when she was visiting and told me that she had gifts, none of us were surprised at how each individual gift was special and perfected for each family member. We opened the presents and teased her of how annoyingly thoughtful she is until we got to the last gift. "I'm really excited about this one, I worked really hard on it and I hope you both like it." I laughed because I KNOW there has never been a gift I didn't absolutely love from her. My husband and I opened the bag, I saw the back first and recognized it was a canvas. I thought it was going to be another fun gift because the last time she made me a painting it was a picture of us painted as superhero's (we love superhero's in this family). I smiled big and was ready for a good laugh when I flipped it over and saw something entirely different.

In slow motion my mind scanned the painting trying to process the picture. I saw a beautiful scenery with lots of different flowers and hills. A stream with a little bridge. The Houston Texas Temple and 4 pink balloons floating away behind it. As my eyes looked further down I saw a man bent down on his knees and a little girl in a pink dress running towards his open arms. She looked so happy. My mind went blank, then I felt an overwhelming urge to cry, my husband jumped off the couch and started walking around, still processing the picture my emotions let loose as I realized who the happy little girl in the pink dress was, it looked just like her, there was no mistaking who she was. It was my Kenna Bear running toward her Savior so happy to be home and reunited with Him.

On the bottom under the canvas was written, "For our sweet angel McKenna". I looked at my friend with eyes flooded in tears barely able to speak I whispered "I love it". A look of relief swept over her face as she held me close and let me cry. Then she broke down the picture. "I used the Houston Temple since this is where your whole family was sealed together for eternity with Dominic. I wanted lots of flowers because I know how much she loved them. I used darker colors on the left side of the painting with less flowers representing this world we live in. It is beautiful but incomparable to the beauty that is in heaven, which is why I used brighter colors and even more flowers on the right. The stream represents the separation between our world and hers and the bridge is her crossing over into the next life being greeted by Jesus Christ who personally called her home to be with Him. Of course the pink balloons represent your family. You and Zach are the top 2 with your strings entwined, then Dominic and Zoe on the bottom."

I finally calmed myself down just to get a round 2 of tears as I stared at the painting longer. I could not get over how much the little girl looked like McKenna. The pink dress, the hair cut, the smile. She really did look so happy, so excited to see her Heavenly Father and although you can't see His face, He seems so pleased to see her. I imagine His next step being similar to the one I did with her everyday when I picked her up from daycare. A run and a jump. No matter what, everyday when I picked her up from daycare I would hear her squeal "MOMMY!!!" then I would turn to find her running toward me full speed. Every time it made my heart light up "KENNA" then I would drop to my knees, pick up her tiny body with a little throw in the air and squeeze her tight. Then she would give me a kiss on the check and say again but more quietly this time as she nuzzled into my shoulder "mommy". I would peck her on the head thinking in the back of my mind how bummed I will be when she is too old and too cool to do this anymore. Then I would grab her things and hold her hand as we walked to the car talking about her day.

I never knew that instead of worrying about her growing up, I would feel the sadness of never seeing her grow up in this life. Although this hurts and leaves a hole in my chest like no other, I find peace knowing I will get to raise her in Heaven. I know the Lord needed her, He called her home with a purpose. This picture sets off so many different emotions. I love how happy she looks, I am so glad that she is happy, I love that she is in a world that is so beautiful and "beyond compare". I love her pink dress and her bare feet. She hated shoes. I love our Savior greeting her at the entrance telling me, "this was not a mistake, I called her home and she came just like she was suppose too". 

I hate that we are separated by a stream, how I wish I could just simply swim across and sweep her up into my arms, lay with her in the colorful garden, see her in her perfected state, smell her short blonde hair, hold her small open hands, kiss her baby cheeks. There is nothing I desire more then to feel those arms wrapped over my shoulders and her legs hooked over my hips with her eyes looking into mine softly whispering "mommy". It feels like a hundred years since I have seen those eyes, heard her voice, felt that soft skin but here we are in the beautiful but dark and dreary world and it has only been a little over 3 1/2 months. How can this be?

I look at this painting and know I will treasure it forever, it is better then any regular picture of her because it is the only picture I don't have. A picture of the present time. She is alive and well, happy and at peace, healthy and unstoppable. There are no pictures of her past that can show me this truth, no amount of videos that can give me the satisfaction. I am going to frame it and hang it next to my front door so every morning when I leave to school I can kiss her goodbye and she will be the last thing on my mind. The last reminder before I start my day and make my way into this world of why I am here and what my true purpose is. To let her light shine through me, to have hope, to have strength, to keep the faith. And every night when I return home the first thing I will see is my little McKenna, with her arms open and a smile running towards me saying "MOMMY!!!". This will remind me every day that one day this moment will come true, except I will be the one at the end of that hug. I will complete the picture by picking her up, throwing her in the air, hugging her close, while I finally get to whisper back "My Kenna Bear", I just have to hold on until then.  


  1. Wow What a beatiful painting! I just love to read your blog there's not one time that I haven't cried doing it; I have learned to know McKenna and how much you love her.I admire you so much Shannon I'm here for you and pray for you and your beautiful family god bless! <3

  2. I'm going to go cry hysterically in my room now...

  3. Beautiful, just beautiful! I truly don't believe it will be long before our Savoir comes to the earth again and your gorgeous McKenna will be among the angels welcoming him back, I know it!! What a special gift for an amazing family!

  4. I am just amazed at her talent and your ability to write. But really, I amazed at our Father in Heaven and the so grateful for the blessing of eternal promises. Now, I must go cry and pray.

  5. I always said there is one thing that I NEVER want to go through and that is to lose one of my children! To my horror my only son was killed in a fatal car accident a year ago at the age of 22. It is by far that hardest thing I have ever faced. I did not know such deep anguish and pain existed. The year anniversary is coming in 17 days. I have the pants he died in, the shoes he died in, his wallet filled with shards of glass from the broken windows all laid out on a shelf in his bedroom. I look at them and cry. I think of the loss of my only son and it hurts deeply. I could NOT look at his dead body in that casket. I knew that was not him, he was not in there. I do know where he is and he has made his presence know quite a few time to me. I grieve for myself and the time we would have had with him in our family. I know with all my heart where he is but.....that doesn't mean we don't hurt and miss him terribly. "Ambush" the kind where the tears and sobs just start out of nowhere hit and you can't stop it. It is good, it is healing, it means you are letting your broken heart start to heal just a little bit at a time. We are in the club, the club no mother ever wants to be in. "Mother's who have lost a child". Life before and life after. Two different worlds for sure. Cry, laugh, sob, smile, crawl in bed and don't get out for the day. Look forward to nights when you can go to bed and try to not feel the pain. The cycle of grieve comes and goes and repeats and has not particular order. The cycle of grief is so necessary but so hard!