I remember starting this painting, though I couldn’t have told you the date until today.

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I knew what I wanted to do for my sister-in-law. Her dad was diagnosed with cancer. She loves Gary Allan and when I watched this the video for Every Storm Runs Out of Rain and saw this image and I knew.

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The canvas was huge. 36″ x 48″ and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I prayed I could because it was so very important to me to be able to offer my prayers this way. I worked on it for months. Slowly. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more intimated by a painting, yet I knew in my soul I had to do it.

I started it exactly one year ago tonight. March 7, 2013.

I finished it on January 6, 2014.

On January 6, Missy called to tell me her mom was going to talk to the nurses about taking her dad off of life support. I got off the phone with her, poured a fresh glass of wine and went to work. There was another blizzard in Northwest Indiana and my brother was out plowing. I was texting him pictures of my progress. Waiting to hear anything about Missy’s dad. I put the song on repeat and just worked. I sent my brother a picture of the words I’d painted on. He thought they were too big. So did I. I took them off and made them smaller and I liked it. I thought it was finished, so I took another picture and typed my message to my brother, but as I was moving my finger to the send button, Johnny called me. I answered it all chipper, “Hey! I was just texting you! The painting is finished.”

He was bawling.

And I broke down.

His father-in-law was gone.

The realization that he was taking his last breaths as I was making the last brushstrokes overtook me.

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I shared the picture on Facebook for my brother and sister-in-law. I said, “For my sister-in-law.” A friend who had no clue what had happened said, “Breathtaking.”

My brother responded, “You have no idea.”

And I lost it.

I was completely undone.

I tried to get to Indiana the next day to be with Missy. But–winter of 2014, she had another tantrum. Another blizzard. Impassible roads. I couldn’t get there until the next day, which happened to be sixth anniversary of my best friend’s death.

So much pain and death.

but Every Storm Runs Out of Rain

Right?

I finally got there. I felt pretty useless, but I tried. Then I went back to a month later for the memorial service. Another blizzard.

And another death.

One of my brother and sister-in-law’s best friends died the morning of the memorial service. Mike was a long-time friend of ours, as well. One of the most spiritual men I’ve ever met. He engaged in deep conversation from the minute he looked in your eyes. He knew so much more than was possible.

So much death and pain.

And today, just over a month after his passing, today is Mike’s birthday. March 7. One year ago today, I started the painting for Missy. I finished it as her dad was taking his last breaths. Mike died the morning of the memorial service. And I started the painting one year ago on his birthday.

I don’t even know how to begin processing this.