… capturing Elizabeth

I knew what it was, even before I saw it … I somehow knew.

January 13 … so just about a year ago the conversation began.  She has always been talented, always had that very artistic side that I terribly lacked.  We’ve known each other since our younger days of pig tails and hand sewn jumpers.  From our public school around the corner to a private school across town, we spent time together between church activities, friends and school events.  Like with most friends our paths traveled in different directions after graduation and the occasional visits took place in the aisles of our local grocery store.  With the help of the ever popular social media outlets we keep up with each others families, the occasional picture like and yearly happy birthday posts.

I have an arsenal of friends who are the most talented photographers whose photos of my children grace the walls of my home.  The dearest of my shutter loving friends have done their very best to capture the perfect picture of Elizabeth on her own and of our sweet little family.  Elizabeth is 12 years old and I do not have a single family portrait hanging in my home.  Ever since Elizabeth was a baby, catching that perfect moment has been nothing short of difficult.  Now before you think that I haven’t a single picture of this beautiful thing sitting around my home, I do; most of them being of her younger days as now it is a chore to get one with her actually looking at me and smiling and let’s just not even talk about trying to take one with all of us.  Point in case below where she has decided to stick her tongue out while the youngest is up to his usual shenanigans.  This is the best I’ve had in years!

It has been well documented that our time with Elizabeth is unknown.  All of our time here is unknown, but with Elizabeth I just never know if today is the day the Lord has finished His work in her here and calls her Home.  Some have asked me how I can so openly talk about that day … because you see that is the day she will be healed and made whole.  Her Creator will be the one who will watch her take her first step, listen to her speak her first word and her tiny life will be pain free.  Healed … simply healed.  For years my deepest fear and regret has been that I will not have a picture that hangs on my wall that captures her beautiful smile and loving spirit.  I need that.  I need to have her amongst our family photos, with the tilted head and toothy grin that I have grown to love.

As I flipped through the dozens of beautiful paintings displayed I knew that I wanted her to paint Elizabeth.  While she had never met Elizabeth, I knew she knew her and had followed her story over the years.  So it started with an email, January 13.  She was honored but was honest and didn’t feel she would be able to paint Elizabeth that would capture her the way I see her everyday.  I knew she could, but wouldn’t pressure her.  I asked her to pray about it, to consider it and if it didn’t happen then I was okay with that because it had to come from Him.  She asked me to be thinking about a picture just in case.  I asked her to meet Elizabeth and spend a little time with her if and when she was ready so patiently I waited for that phone call.

My dad said there was a package on the front porch, my mom replied that it was for Pam.  I couldn’t imagine who would be leaving me something at my parents home and then she said

It’s from Sydney …

The sting, that undeniable sting was there before I even opened the package.  I almost felt as if I couldn’t open it, I knew it would be the picture that was going to hang amongst her siblings that someday I would brush my fingers against as I passed it in the hallway just as I had brushed my fingertips against her rosy cheeks each time I put her to bed or kissed her goodbye before leaving her.  My heart raced as I tried to prepare myself, but very much like that first morning in the NICU when I had tried so very hard to be brave before seeing her for the very first time I hadn’t prepared myself enough. She had captured her ….

Every brush stroke captured her spirit.  Her curly hair, the pink bow.  Her tilted head and that beautiful smile that draws all those she meets into their heart.  It was all there, it was everything I had ever imagined I wanted it to be.  It was my Elizabeth.  I didn’t cry, I wept with the most gratefulness of appreciation for my childhood friend who sacrificed of herself.  Who so very selflessly put her trust in God to guide her hand, to hold her hand as she spent so much of her time with a little girl she had never met.  I had never even chosen a picture for her, yet she somehow knew the perfect photograph to bring to life and truly had moments of Life with Elizabeth in her own heart that have been carefully brushed onto a piece of canvas that will forever be the center of our hearts and our home.

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