Last September my friend Nancy, got in touch to tell me of the death of her beloved daughter. I was saddened to hear the details of Meghan’s passing. Nancy explained that she wanted to commission me to create the cover art for a book she was writing about Megs. She then went on to tell me of a lucid dream her brother, Charles, experienced after her daughter had passed. In it he envisioned his niece moments after her death. No longer was Megs a 35-year-old woman consumed with cancer, but a healthy nine-year-old. She bounded through the door of Chirup, their summer cottage, and raised her arms in delight as she overlooked the lake. When she realized she had crossed the threshold to the afterlife her joy couldn’t be contained. That’s the image Meghan’s mom wanted illustrated for the cover of her book, Blessings from Heaven. Nancy planned to include all the details of her brother’s heavenly encounter with his niece.
Some may dismiss Charles’s vision as a broken heart trying to heal itself, but I knew better. From what I’ve witnessed, along with sorrow, death always brings miracles. Through her uncle’s dream Meghan’s soul made sure her family knew her suffering was over and that she is free.
I accepted the commission and began gathering details for my illustration. Meghan’s mom had to find photos of her daughter as a child and of Chirup for me to work from. Getting the details of the cottage right were almost as important as getting Megs right. She had such a connection to the vacation dwelling that it was her heart’s desire to spend her final days there.
I felt a little apprehensive about making the book cover. I knew what I was doing was important work and wanted it to be perfect. Nancy turned out to be a fabulous art director. When she saw my preliminary sketch, she knew I had to thin and elongate Meghan’s body. She was able to supply me with the minutest of details to make Chirup authentic. She even gave me images of wildflowers that grow in the area to incorporate into the painting. She told me that I had artistic license to place them around the cottage in abundance even though they weren’t there in actuality. The illustration was of heaven after all.
The final art took months to complete. Every day that I sat down to paint, I put on the cancer bracelet that Meghan’s family wore to support her. Having it on my wrist somehow solidified the connection I felt with her. I could feel her vibrant energy. I knew she was doing what she could to help me make the cover of her mom’s book a masterpiece.
When I finally put the finishing touches on the art, I appraised all the detail in the plants around the cottage. I’d spent hours and hours painting those flowers. I found my antique flower dictionary to look up the definitions of the blooms Nancy wanted in the illustration. When I complete a portrait commission if flowers are included, I like to read the meanings behind them. The definitions always somehow tie into my subject’s personalities, struggles and gifts.
I was in awe when I read what the wildflowers Meghan’s mom chose meant:
*The orange day-lilies represent beauty. They describe Nancy’s daughter far beyond the physical.
*Daisies mean simplicity. Megs never was one for too much fuss in her attire or surroundings. She drew much comfort from nature.
*Black-Eyed-Susan’s mean justice. To Meghan’s family and friends her passing seemed so unfair, but in the tapestry of life she left in perfect timing. So many gifts will materialize that wouldn’t have if she had stayed. Megs now has the power to help her loved ones from behind the scenes in ways she never could have while on Earth.
*The final flowers Nancy requested are purple phlox. I got chills when I read that their definition is, ”our souls are united.” It was a clear cut message for Meghan’s family, especially for her son, Tyler. Death could never be strong enough to separate them from her love.
Discovering what the flowers I had painstaking painted symbolized gave me a new understanding of the aphorism “God is in the details.” As I closed my Victorian flower dictionary, I was reminded, once again, how Divine love is woven through everything.
When Nancy learned I’d scheduled my essay to run today, she was thrilled. You see today is her birthday. I had no idea. No one can convince either of us that this isn’t a gift to her, through me, from Meghan. Happy birthday, Nancy.
*Click here to purchase a copy of Blessings from Heaven
Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com
Oh Sue! Thank you for the most beautiful birthday present I’ve ever received. And as you stated at the end: “No one can convince either of us that this isn’t a gift to her, through me, from Meghan.” Megs has been gone from this earth for nine months now and I miss her beyond words. But she has assured me that she’s in Heaven. So I thank Meghan for guiding Sue as she painted her magnificent masterpiece and for urging her to post this story on my birthday. I love you my sweet Meggie!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’m so happy to be a part of all this! Happy birthday, Nancy. xo
Beautiful on so many levels!
Thank you, Elena
Sue, I’ve believed in visits from loved ones after their passing for a long time and have experienced it often. This story confirms what I already knew. I find comfort in the affirmation, and I believe there are no coincidences in life.
Mary, the more open I am to these experiences the more I seem to allow them in. They always uplift and let me know that God exists.
A beautiful tribute.
Sue, I can’t help but wonder if God used your gift of pressing love to wounds, to bring the heaven where Meghan is now, to her loved ones here. Maybe this is not just the summer home she loved here, and not just how she used to look years before. Maybe, this is how it really is now.
Beautifully said. Meghan’s mom believes exactly that.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Dear Sue, Your post came a few days go, but I did not read it until today. What a blessings your words and painting must be to Meghan’s family. They have also touched my heart. Thank you. Lois
Thank so you much, Lois.