Several months after losing his daughter Peyton, Brian felt the need to get back up to speed as a business owner. In April 2008, he made his first business trip since Peyton’s death, travelling to Florida for the annual conference of the Packaging Distributors of America. At the conference, he met Stephen Polin, the owner of packaging company who also happens to be an accomplished painter.
Over the course of several conversations, Brian gained a comfort level with Stephen, and eventually pitched an idea to him: He wanted to commisson Stephen to make a painting as a gift for Kelly. Brian picks up the story in Chapter 21, “The Painting.”
I saw Stephen at breakfast. By now, he knew the backstory. I had a daughter who was stillborn, my wife was recovering from the C-section to deliver her and we have a little boy who means everything to us. I wanted to give Kelly something that would express everything we were feeling: Our loss, our love for Logan and our love for each other.
“I would really love it if you’d do a painting for me. Something I could give to my wife,” I said to Stephen.
I told him that I had pictures of Logan as a toddler playing with our dog Moose, who died in 2009. I wanted him to make a painting based on those pictures.
Stephen zeroed in on two photos in particular. One was when Logan was about 11 months old, right before Christmas 2006. He was standing at our front door, looking out the window. Moose was standing right next to him, doing the exact same thing. This little boy and this big Labrador retriever, side by side, waiting for Santa Claus or the mailman or anyone else who might appear at our door. It was hilarious, heartwarming and was everything I wanted to show Kelly.
The other photo — which Stephen used for the painting’s foreground, was also based on a Logan baby picture. It was Logan, in his baby scooter, standing nose-to-nose with Moose in what appears to be a wide-eyed staring contest for the ages.
Once Stephen found those pictures, he agreed to do the painting.
“I think I can do something really creative with these. I think you’ll like it,” he emailed me.
Over the next five months, Stephen sent me pictures of the painting in progress. I had never seen a work of art come to life. I observed the creative process, every step of the way. The painting was finished in September 2008.