Last summer, my dear friend, Cindy Chamberlin, who was Maxwell’s physical therapist mentioned that she thought I was the right artist to paint a very special picture for her. The picture she wanted me to paint, the story she wanted me to tell, was Jordan’s Journey. Jordan was Cindy’s daughter who passed away from Trisomy 18 three days after she was born. Cindy started the New River Wave of Light in Fayetteville, WV which occurs every October to honor the children who passed away too soon.
This was one of the most intimidating projects I have ever painted. It had to be perfect. I knew Cindy had waited a long time to commission someone to paint Jordan’s Journey. She told me that Jordan’s symbol is a butterfly. The painting she imagined was of a butterfly flying down a trail in the forest with sun shining through the trees. Two other butterflies would fly with Jordan. These butterflies were Oliver and Elias, the first two children’s families she met along her journey with infant loss. All around Jordan, Oliver and Elias are names of 43 other children who have passed away. At the very end of the trail she wanted the name Grandma to honor Cindy’s mother who passed away from cancer.
I began with a sketch of a beautiful garden in the forest full of big, blooms and three butterflies traveling toward the mountains. I wanted the trees to form an arch so that the eye focuses on the trail leading to the mountains.
Before I started painting, I said a little prayer and asked Miss Jordan to please help me make this artwork incredible for her mom. I included bright, playful colors because in my mind I pictured Jordan and her friends happy, carefree, joyful, and full of laughter. Each child’s name was calligraphed in a color that either blended or contrasted with the background.
When I work, I am constantly asking myself, “Does this feel right?” If it feels right, it will look right. As a mother, I allowed myself time to cry as I thought about how much each one of these children were loved. I smiled at how they changed their parents lives for the better. They brought together a community of people who would never have known each other otherwise. Every single child is a gift to be celebrated.
I love this painting so much and the story that it tells. I hope that it is everything Cindy dreamt it would be, and I feel so honored to now be a part of Jordan’s Journey.
Please check out the New River Wave of Light’s Facebook page if you would like to know more about their organization: www.facebook.com/NewRiverWaveofLight/