When Alisa's cancer was in her brain a few years ago, Alisa posed for a portrait for James Christensen, her favorite artist. He knew of her story through his daughter-in-law, Jennie, one of Alisa's dearest friends.
Since then, she has waited with anticipation to see the painting. Jennie had seen glimpses of the progress, but Alisa had no idea what it would look like.
This week, James finished the painting and Jennie was able to present it to her for her birthday. Jenny showed her the unglazed painting on Wednesday at the hospital, and then today, for her birthday, Alisa got the framed painting to keep.
She was completely overwhelmed by the gift. Since Wednesday, Jennie's visit with the painting is really the only event in the hospital she remembers consistently. When we come to visit, she asks if we have seen it. She just loves and it you can see why.
Today for her birthday, we broke the visiting rules and marched into the ICU with all 8 of her siblings , our parents, and Alisa's three boys. We had balloons, flowers, gifts, and her nurses had brought her a cake. We told her we were coming, but the big surprise was the painting. She was overcome with emotion, really. As Josh read the artist's description, we teared up.
"The square represents Earth, it is mortality with edges, it has boundaries. (A circle is eternity).
She is partially in the square an partially out. Her body inside the square represents mortality, outside the square represents eternity.
The jewels represent her boys birthstones."
I can't totally put myself in her place, but I know my sister well enough to understand just how much this means to her. First of all, that someone would spend the time to create such a beautiful thing for her is just incredible. And that the painting so beautifully portrays her, with her long hair and free from the lymphedema and scars of cancer. Also, the significance of the jewels representing her greatest treasure, her children. Alisa has an incredible eye for beauty and I think this painting has captured her beauty in a way that goes beyond just a physical likeness, there is something of her beautiful spirit as well.
So thank you, Mr. Christensen, for a making Alisa's day. This is a work of art that will be treasured by Alisa and all of us who love her.
The big reveal. My hands! My youth! My hair! Painted by a maser. I'll have to write more of what this means to me, but check out some of his work here