I have a painting hanging in my office that my sister made for me at least ten years ago.
I had just moved into my first apartment and man were the walls bare. We had nothing but a bed, a leather recliner that I think we picked up on the side of the road, a twenty dollar IKEA coffee table, and an old stained easy chair that my mother gave us. There was nothing hanging on the walls except a small painting my girlfriend at the time has painted for me in high school.
So, I reached out for the help of an enthusiastic artist—my baby sister. I was about twenty and she would have been about 8 or 9. She gave me two watercolor paintings—one was a vase of flowers, and the other was sort of an abstract sunflower.
I have always had a special place in my heart for sunflowers. For a while, they were my favorite flower. In high school, I bought a bunch of them one day to bring to a friend who was in the hospital—I was supposed to visit her the next day. Sadly, she never made it to the next day, and I was left with that bouquet of sunflowers as a reminder of her and all that her life should have been.
Being the dramatic and moody fifteen year old that I was, I dried those sunflowers and kept them for YEARS. I’m actually not even sure that they aren’t still in a memory box tucked away in my garage somewhere. I feel like I probably threw them away the last time we moved, but at the same time, I can’t imagine myself being able to throw them in a trash can. If I did throw them away, I wish it would have occurred to me to crush them up and mix them into my garden soil. How symbolic that would have been—my fifteen year old self would have loved it.
That’s beside the point, though. The point is that my sister knows nothing of all that—and still doesn’t to this day. All she knows is that she gave me this sunflower painting and I loved it and hung it in my apartment until I moved out of that apartment, and it has resided in my office ever since. She probably doesn’t even remember that.
Now, I’m moving offices (again), and I’m looking at this picture and wondering if it still has a place in my life, or if it’s time for something new. At this stage in our lives, my sister and I don’t talk to each other. Where that used to be something that was forced on us because my stepmother wouldn’t allow us to have a relationship, and it used to truly break my heart—but I’ve made peace with that. My sister was maid of honor in my wedding, but she’s just not in a place right now where she wants to be a part of my life in the way that I want her to be—and I’m in a place where I’m not too keen on being taken advantage of and lied to.
That aside, my friend died half a lifetime ago. Literally. I don’t need to hang on to that anymore, either.
I think it’s time to fill that space with something new—with something relevant to my life now instead of my life then. You couldn’t pay me a million dollars to go back to that old life, so why would I want it hanging on my walls reminding me?