A Gift

I was told to close my eyes and not open them until he said so.

I’m really, really bad at surprises. I never know how to react, and I’m a terrible actress, a terrible liar. So the anticipation of my reaction is what kills me. Always when the attention is on me to open a present. (Surely you have noticed by now in this blog that I’m my own worst enemy- most of my current stress is completely self-induced.) So I start to perspire. How do I react? What do I say? I know I will love it but, how do I make sure he knows that I love it? One of my most immense qualities is also such a flaw- making sure those around are happy and appreciated. Over my own contentment always.

Oh no, already teary. Temples are sweating now. The seconds feel like hours. What’s taking so long?

Okay, you can open now.

And immediately I see this.



Oh my God.

That’s all I could say. Over and over.

An extraordinary interpretation of one of my favorite moments thus far with Holden. The raw happiness captured perfectly on canvas. This moment was Holden’s first football weekend at the University of Notre Dame, where I attended college. A place that is so special to me. It became even more special when I got to share it with Holden last October. The morning we left our trip to go home, a beautiful day. The sun seeping through the bare, dewy branches, shining on our faces amidst all the oranges, reds, and yellows of the crunchy leaves that seemed to have drop over night. The air was chilly and we were layered up, playing outside in those leaves. Had to leave Mass early because Holden was not having the quiet reverence required at the Basilica on campus. Preferred much more running on his toes and yelling, laughing outside in all the leaves.

Being outside with Holden is so peaceful. I recalled during his infancy how being outside and listening to the natural sounds- the songs of birds, the whisper of the wind, the pattering of squirrels across the backyard fence- these were things that brought him happiness when he was suffering so badly from reflux. He’d so much as squirm and grunt and I’d have him outside before that first scream could exude.

Little did I know in those early months what our next couple years would look like.

This morning was so reminiscent of that peace. Holden had nothing but a smile on his face as he ran back and forth, falling down, feeding the squirrels. On the grounds of a place that had been so dear to my heart both during college and most of my adolescence. For me, a place that represented both innocence and anticipation of the life to come once I left those grounds.


I admire art and always have. I love to paint myself and always have. Creativity is a pathway for communication, no matter what’s trying to be said. I admire it even more so when an artist is able to touch your heart, remind you of moments so pure and joyous regardless of what situation you find yourself in.

I think about this as I touch the canvas softly, eyes squinting to see the beautiful details. The record of Holden and I’s bond laid out before me.


This piece is is a beautiful one. Each brush stroke full of purpose, encapsulating the peaceful feelings that filled my heart that morning. And every morning with Holden. Even when those mornings begin well into the middle of the night with a certain bodily fluid or two. Welcome to toddlerhood.

What an amazing and meaningful gift to me, a subtle reminder of how blessed I am to be in the position I’m in. To have the life I’ve got. And now, to share it with someone who appreciates that life I’ve got. And to appreciate that someone who has that appreciation. So much more than a Valentine’s day gift.

For more information on the incredible New Orleans artist, please visit http://www.tamicurtisellis.com/.


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