Monday, January 4, 2016

A Birthday and an Art Show

Each December, the age Lily would soon be turning weighs on my heart. Thoughts of her coming birthday and would-be age starts around the time my cousin Daniel's son, Owen, turns the same age.

You may remember me talking about them both many times through the years. Daniel and I are boy and girl cousins, born 4 months apart, and Owen and Lily are also boy and girl cousins, born 3 months apart. We both had unplanned pregnancies at the same time in our lives, unbeknownst to each other for several months. Our moms, who are sisters born 1 year apart, both wanted the name "Hannah" before either of them had girls. Well... they were pregnant at the same time, but my mom had me first so she got the name, and of course Daniel ended up being a boy anyways. Well fast forward to when Lily and Owen were in the womb, and Daniel and I both liked the name "Owen" for a boy, without realizing it! Of course Lily was a girl and was always meant to be Lily. What crazy similarities, right??

Also, Luke would have been born just a couple months before Owen... so his birthday is right in between the time both my babies either should have been born or were born.

This year, Owen is 6. This year, he is in Kindergarten and getting to be a big-kid. This year, Lily remains my baby, just like last year and next year too.

I recently shared the painting "Both of Their Hearts," by artist Elizabeth Shanahan, that was inspired by Lily and Luke. Elizabeth was an art student at Appalachian State University (she just graduated) and did her senior honors thesis on the sanctity of life.

Originally, the final product was to be "an exhibition of portraits of people of different ages, appearances, and abilities." The unborn were one part of the project.

However, Elizabeth emailed me and wrote, "My show actually ended up taking a different turn after the first critique. It became clear that babies were the ones I really wanted to focus on, rather than people as a whole, and the pieces I’m going to use for my senior show are a set of three monumental paintings, each with a tiny little figure modeled after eighteen weeks gestational age. I felt so passionately about their portrait, Lily and Luke ended up being the catalysts for an entire body of work."

When I found this out, I was deeply touched. Elizabeth invited me to her show, which fell on December 11th - Owen's 6th birthday. My mom and I were planning on and greatly wanting to go, but unfortunately I was sick that week and just wasn't able to make the trip to the mountains where the university is, which is about 3 1/2 hours from my home. It was disappointing I couldn't make it.

But the fact that it fell on Owen's birthday, on a day that painfully highlights the fact that my Lily isn't here, is special to me. You see, it reminds me that just because Lily and Luke aren't here in the same way Owen is, it doesn't mean they aren't still alive. They are of course in Heaven alive, but also God has reminded me that He's still breathing life into their legacies. And He is doing so apart from me... Even when I'm sick and hundreds of miles away, it doesn't mean He isn't using them and touching hearts because of them. He uses whatever tool He wants. Even after 6 years.

Elizabeth emailed me saying, "The show was great. We had something like 200 people attend, and I got really great reactions to my work. I also passed my thesis defense, so all is good here. :)"

I am glad to hear the show turned out well and congratulations to Elizabeth!

Since I couldn't be there in person, she was so kind as to email me the paintings and said I could share them here with you.


On another note, a gal who also attended Ellerslie and was in a different Ellerslie semester, read on my blog about the art show and lives close enough that she was interested in going. That was another reason why I wanted to go, to meet a fellow Ellerslie mate. ;) But, because she was wrapping up her semester in college, she didn't end up going anyways. But it was pretty neat that she was wanting to go. :)

Each year, Owen's mommy sends me a birthday sign in honor of Lily on her birthday. I have come to treasure this tradition of seeing Owen and Lily in a photo "together." Each year, he grows bigger and she stays the same. Just missing year 2.

Here is my favorite picture of Daniel and I because Lily was in it. :) It was taken 6 years ago in December, shortly after Owen was born and Lily was growing away.

Daniel and I when we were little... how I wish Owen and Lily were in pictures like this!

Here are Owen, Daniel, and I in the summer of 2010... it was the first time I met 6-month old Owen and would have been the first time 3-month-old Lily would have met him too.

Daniel and I visiting Lily's special spot together.

To see the painting by Elizabeth, read her artist statement for the show, and read more about it all, click HERE.

To read more posts about Owen, click HERE.

You can connect with Elizabeth and check out more of her work here:


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