There I was, in my third trimester, preparing to give birth to our identical twin boys. Still young, and largely dependent on the advice and comfort that came from my mother, especially since my father passed a few years prior. My mom and I had found a new normal and we were both excited but also terrified about adding the twins to our little family. Then life changed drastically.
Within four months, my mom died, I gave birth to the twins, and my first baby, Sydney, my dog of 12 years, died.
My husband and I already had a daughter, Valarie, who was almost 4 at the time. As you may know, a 4 year old stops for nothing and no one but my mom was honestly her best friend. We were all experiencing the same polar mix of emotions - loss and celebration in our own individual ways. Meanwhile, our house was full. Our lifelong friend and his girlfriend had been renting one of our four rooms. Did I mention that this was shortly after the devastation of Harvey in Houston? As such, we also had my husband’s parents living with us because their home was inhabitable due to flooding. While we were crowded with people and things to do, their help was priceless. Even still, there was no healing taking place; we were just barely surviving.
When my grandma was trying to comfort me after my mom’s death, she said to “Just spread a little sunshine wherever you go, just like your mom did.” My mom’s mom (grandma) is 87 and just as bright and sunny as my mom was. So, the saying “Spread a little sunshine for Susan” became our motto.
Growing up, I remember the little folded up napkins, small envelopes and folded pieces of paper that were filled with some type of seed mom was saving to plant someday. Nearly every spring, our family would make trips to Tennessee to visit grandma; loading up in the ugliest minivan to hit the road. We would get about halfway there, stop on the side of the highway and run across (crazy right) to pick these beautiful wildflowers. We would often realize there were too many bugs in them and toss them out of the window. My mom’s passion for flowers was amazing and she took us on many adventures to find them. I think about her every day.
On autopilot, I started working again in October and my photography business picked up quickly. At the same time, we were still adjusting to the extreme changes we felt in such a short time. By this point, the house would have been too quiet without the kids - all our additional live ins had moved out. As if by design, I started working with a new venue call Ambrosia Crossing. It’s a beautiful wedding/event venue in Hempstead. In exchange for using the space I offered to donate 1,000 bluebonnet/wildflower seeds per session to help maintain and grow the field. After genuine interest and input from Caroline, the owner of Ambrosia, she graciously suggested we plant a sunflower field and dedicate it to my mom. I felt a sudden warmth and purpose in our meeting.
I donated over 14,000 seeds but more so, I ended up making lifelong connections and donating a piece of my heart.
In the future, this field will serve many purposes. For my brother and I, it will be a place to heal and to remember and honor my mom. For my daughter & her cousin it will be a place to play in their Mimi’s sunshine. For Ambrosia, it will enhance the experience of all who step foot on this secret slice of heaven on earth. Overall this field is meant to bring a little sunshine, a little joy, and little bit of hope to everyone who visits.
So here we are spreading sunshine for my mom, Susan Bryan. A bright little soul that always followed the sunshine and who will never be forgotten.
Here’s to you, Mom. We love you.
In order from left to right: Lindsey, Valarie, Susan, Christian, Grandma, Phillip, Rachel, Skylar Freshly tilled dirt to start spreading a little sunshine for Susan Two rows of Chocolate Cherry Sunflowers Three rows of Vanilla Ice Sunflowers Day one of planting complete. Five rows of beautiful sunflowers. Day Two of Planting has begun. She loved them all Five more rows and lots more hands. Ten rows planted. Now we wait for them to grow. Screenshot