It all started in a migraine group on Facebook in February, 2020.

I've gotten migraines since I was a teenager. They're the worst. If you've ever had a migraine, you know the horror.

I joined a Facebook group for migraine sufferers. We mostly posted during attacks for support. Occasionally, there would be a post loosely based around migraines but more for entertainment. It was in this group that I "met" Cristy.

Cristy also has frequent migraines. She would post about her migraines, and post about how her special mare Tinkerbell would keep her going during attacks. The most exciting thing about Tinkerbell wasn't just her unique and rare connection with Cristy - Tinkerbell was pregnant!

Tinkerbell became super popular on the group. She had a BUNCH of dedicated followers watching for the next "Tink post". In fact, she became so popular that the admins decided to ban all Tinkerbell posts (to this day I have no idea why... she kept a lot of us going during attacks). We were all so upset (well... everyone except the haters who complained that Tink was more popular than they were).

So Cristy started her own group dedicated to Tinkerbell and her foal, Cristy's other animals, and any group members who also loved or owned animals, Along Comes Baby. The hope was that we could follow Tinkerbell's pregnancy, and we could catch the foaling LIVE on video. This was during the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic, so Tink's pregnancy and upcoming birth was one of the more fun and exciting things to look forward to.

Much to our delight, Cristy managed to capture Tinkerbell's foaling on video, and got photos for us all as well! We were so excited! It was a filly (girl baby horse), and she was named Faline. She was the cutest little thing and looked just like her mama.

Faline grew and we all loved our regular updates on her, Tinkerbell, and the other animals on the farm.

Then, on August 16th, 2020, just 6 months after Faline was born, the worst happened.

Cristy posted a photo of her with Tinkerbell lying in her arms. The caption with the photo simply said,

"I am shattered. Tink died in my arms about 30 minutes ago."

Reading those words was a sucker punch straight to the gut. Cristy's "heart horse", the horse that brought together people from around the world, gave us encouragement, something to look forward to, during one of the most difficult years many of us had ever faced, and Faline's mama, was gone without warning. The cause was a flare of heaves (similar to COPD in humans). Later, Cristy posted another heart-wrenching narrative:

"The raw ugly truth of having to say goodbye and that final kiss goodnight. I am finally together-ish enough to post these. I held my sweet girl in my arms as she drew her last breath on this planet this evening. 6 months ago I helped her usher her beautiful daughter into this world and today I helped usher her across the rainbow bridge. This is one of the most gut-wrenching, soul crushing moments in any horse lover's life. I had no idea our daughter had taken my phone and captured these images, but I am so grateful that she did. My heart is shattered and my barn is much too quiet. My mind cannot process today's events and it cannot quiet itself enough for me to sleep. I came outside to listen to the night sounds and was greeted by soft flashes of lightning. With zero chance of rain anytime soon, I am choosing to believe those soft flashes were Tink's way of letting me see her hoof beats as she runs in the meadows across the rainbow bridge. My heart will never be whole again. Hug your horse that one more time... the rest of the world can wait."

Suddenly, it hit me. I knew what the purpose of my art was - to bring comfort and joy in the midst of difficulty. Once I felt like it would not be too intrusive, I contact Cristy and told her what I wanted to do. "Send me your favorite pictures of Tinkerbell. I'm going to paint a memorial portrait of her for you as a gift." It took about a month to complete as I was struggling with health issues of my own... but I got it done. Cristy requested that I not send any updates, she wanted to open it LIVE on the group and be surprised.

The LIVE video link is here, but you won't be able to see it unless you're a part of the group. Cristy was overwhelmingly thankful and I was incredibly honored. I was never expecting a video or any recognition, I simply wanted to use my talents and skills to bring a little bit of comfort to a hopeless situation.

Tinkerbell's portrait opened a door for me to do commissions. She inspires me in every commission piece I do. Many of them are memorial paintings - of other horses, dogs, people, and more.

Of course I paint for fun. I paint to get better at painting. And I paint because, as my mentor Dori Beth Josimovich says, "It's cheaper than therapy".

But I also paint because it's my God-given gift and it's something I can do to bring hope in hard times.

Keep on flying free, Tinkerbell. You're still inspiring us.