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She didn't choose The Sunflower. The Sunflower chose her

Brianna Bell discusses sentimental connections in this week's Mom of the House
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2017-11-10 Brianna Bell sunflower
Penny and Georgia in 2016 with The Sunflower. Photo by Brianna Bell

“I think I’m ready to take down The Sunflower,” I announced one evening to Daniel, my husband.  

“Oh, thank goodness!” He responded dramatically and with loud enthusiasm.

The Sunflower is a large 4 foot by 2.5 foot painting that hangs proudly in our kitchen. It’s a textured piece of artwork, with vibrant petals pushing out of the painting and seeds scattered at the centre of the flower. It makes a bold statement and is the first thing you see when you enter our home.

At night when our windows are open, you can see the happy painting in its rightful place in our kitchen. It brightens the space and commands the attention of all.

Some love The Sunflower. Others, not so much.

If I’m being honest, The Sunflower is a piece of art that I would have never chosen for myself. Instead, it chose me.

Two and a half years ago my oldest brother passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack. He was 42-years-old, and his absence left our family reeling in pain and numb from shock.

When my brother died I remember feeling disconnected from him. I had nothing of his. I asked my middle brother to get me something of Jason’s. I needed something that was his while he was alive to keep him alive in my life.

A few months after Jason died, my brother Aaron delivered The Sunflower to me. I remember wondering what on earth I was supposed to do with something so massive and overpowering.

Shortly after I acquired the painting, we moved and I found the perfect spot for it. My husband didn’t love The Sunflower, but he learned to live with it. For me, it was a happy reminder of my brother Jason. I felt like he was with us, brightening my day and bringing joy and happiness into my home.

But lately I have felt like it was time to release The Sunflower. It’s taken a powerful hold on my home and heart. It’s bold statement has at times felt a little bit too bold. Our kids have gotten into the habit of crashing our dining chairs into The Sunflower (our house is tiny, our kids are rough), and with every crash I cringe more and more. I’ve come to accept that even though The Sunflower is beautiful, it’s not my kind of beautiful. And my husband has not minced words with his feelings on the subject.

After discussing with my husband my desire to release The Sunflower, I decided to put it up for sale. I knew I could keep it in the basement, but it felt cruel to banish such a beautiful piece to the dark and damp corners of our lifeless basement. It felt like there was a place for The Sunflower, just not here.

In my advertisement I made sure to include that this was a sentimental piece. I wanted The Sunflower to go to a good home.

I chatted with a few potential buyers, but for various reasons nothing worked out. Finally after a few days, a woman sent me a message and asked if she could come that night. I felt uneasy, realizing that I was actually selling the one tangible connection that I had to Jason.

That evening the doorbell rang and a woman walked into my home, ready to take The Sunflower to her home.

“You said that this piece is sentimental to you, right?” She asked, after gushing about how much she loved the painting.

“Yes. It was my late brother’s,” I replied.

“Well, it’s sentimental to me too,” She said. “My grandmother loved sunflowers. And last night I had a dream that she gave me a sunflower.”

I felt my face grow flush and my eyes moisten. I felt so overwhelmed with emotion that I could barely speak.

“Oh,” I breathed, “Thank you. Thank you, for telling me that.”

I closed the door, and everything felt right.

Sometimes our stories connect in ways we could never imagine. The Sunflower has connected me to this woman in a way that I cannot describe. The Sunflower has connected my brother and her grandmother too, both represented in this piece of art that will live happily in its new home.

The Sunflower has gone to a new home, but my love for my brother and his memory and joy remains in my heart, and in my home, forever.



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