Two and a half weeks ago I woke up to this scene. My painting, left on the floor overnight because it was too large to go on the table, was walked on by Tanner. These paint footprints were all over our house; on our hardwood floors, throughout the kitchen, in the hallway, our bedroom, and on our quilt on our bed.
I was already grumpy. We were already two and a half weeks into our bathroom remodel from hell (that is still going on, by the way), and now I had to spend an extra hour or two scrubbing and chipping off dried paint from our floors and trying to salvage a nearly ruined bedspread. It wasn’t exactly my ideal start to the morning. Luckily Tanner didn’t break the canvas – it was still intact – but his pawprints were all over it. I was making this painting for friends, and I was pretty sure they didn’t want the pawprint version of the painting I was creating for them.
That night I continued to paint on the canvas, covering up the pawprints a bit… But then Tanner got sick. And our bathroom got worse. And everything started falling apart, so the painting was put to the side to finish another day.
Five days after I woke up to this scene, we put Tanner to sleep. While we spent the majority of our weekend making his garden, in the middle of it Keith and I stopped and looked again at the painting.
Tanner’s pawprints. Deep enough that you could feel the impressions of where his paws landed. Where you might remember the size of his paws, the softness of his pads, the fur that hung over the edges, his insanely long nails because I was always too nervous to cut them.
When we went to put Tanner to sleep, he actually still had dried paint on fur where he had walked through the painting just five days earlier.
We decided in that moment that that painting was not meant to be given away. We couldn’t give up this painting that had such an impressionable part of Tanner’s paws on them. It was his gift to us to be able to touch and remember him.
Sometimes the things we think are terrible in a particular moment actually turn out to benefit us quite greatly. We may not always see this from the outset, but most painful events can be great blessings in disguise. This is absolutely true for this painting, which now hangs above our couch. It’s not my favorite painting, and I’m not even sure its done, but for now it holds space in our hearts for our dog that we lost.
Perhaps the next time each of us encounters a painful or frustrating situation, maybe we can look at it from how it might benefit us, now or in the future.
Happy Monday my friends.