Sometimes life throws us into situations we would never expect to face.
Yet I know this young girl would have smiled her way through it all.
Charlotte you are ALWAYS in my heart thank you for being such an inspiration to me.
Charlotte Leatherbarrow, was a beautiful girl from the inside out, FULL of life, smiles, joy, an incredible dancer (Bill Elliot), vivacious, kind, and an incredible role model in how she lived. Her life has been one of the biggest inspirations to me.
On the 18th March 2012 Charlotte was tragically run over by a bus on her way to dance class, after being instructed by her mother to wait at the side of the road, Charlotte bravely stepped forward too soon, thinking all was clear. (this is painful to write so please bare with me!). This was the last moment her mother saw her daughter.
This tragic news came quickly to our phones “Please pray a little girl has just been found under a bus”.
You never think you will know the person in those situations, only to reply “Who?”….”Charlotte Leatherbarrow”.
This news hit like a tonne of bricks that I have since never felt before. The utter shock, horror and distress I felt was remarkable.
WHY GOD WHY? HOW HOW HOW? WHAT?
I couldn’t explain it. I felt numb. Charlotte was always the little girl I looked up to at school, the one I yearned to hold my hand and look up into my eyes with her bright and cheeky smile. But now there was no more!
My words had gone, my heart numb, my vision blurred, my future suddenly felt grey.
I guess I have rarely faced death and this was a tragedy.
Let’s say I am sensitive hearted so I felt the burden for everyone it felt!
Life seemed to literally stop.
I wanted to give up on everything. My mother started to worry as I showed signs of not even caring about my one passion: art.
I had an art exam in two weeks time but my mind was so distracted by the death nothing else seemed to matter.
WHY WHY WHY?
“Where is she Jesus?” I cried out one evening. “Just show me where Charlotte is, I need comfort in this?”
I closed me eyes and I saw this vision (all I can describe it as) of a little girl spinning really freely under a spotlight. TOTAL freedom. My heart rested a little and I suddenly found peace thinking to myself: “Wow she looks even more free than us!”.
This vision is still planted in my mind, it brings me great joy whenever I think about it.
The freedom was infectious in it and there is such a delight over her as she danced, it was as if I felt a wave of joy. She really LOVED to dance and lived by her motto passionately:
“Dance like nobody is watching”
I went to bed in tears each night running up to the art exam. Not thinking I would be able to make it, my parents and Godfather, Christopher Graves, helped me prepare.
Despite feeling so fragile and literally bursting into tears at random moments I prayed a little prayer:
“I have nothing in me right now God, you are going to have to paint this for me!”.
Thinking I was mad even saying those words the exam started.
It was good to focus on something else, however I had no particular drive within me, yet felt this amazing peace.
I can feel it as I write this. I never knew what I was doing when I painted but with this it was as if I knew each brush stroke was ‘right’. I felt so assured and the time seemed to go quite slow.
I loved the process and felt free as I painted.
Near to the end of the exam I stepped back and looked into the mirror catching a glimpse of my piece:
“I did not paint that, that is beautiful and wow so much freedom”.
I ended up finishing early and needing to leave the exam for another exam.
A week later I was explaining the piece to a friend and the process and it THEN all clicked!!
The painting I had painted, was from a photograph I had taken with Freddie Reed of my best friend, Mollie Nicholson.
However it was blurred so you couldn’t see her face other than a great spin of her white dress with part of the light bulb from my basement shining through!
This was the EXACT vision I had had of Charlotte!
Wait, what? Was this possible? How? WOW!!
God really had painted it through me and WAS really even in this awful situation!
Wow. Despite my questions, doubts, fears, anger and pain God somehow had shone through – showing me his awesome redemption, presence and ultimately his love that can surround us even in the most dire situations.
In love there is total freedom:
SHE BROUGHT FREEDOM AND LIFE.
Her legacy lives on more and more in my heart and many others.
Thank you Charlotte for your life of integrity, freedom and love that you led.
This foundation has been set up by her parents as a way to not only remember Charlotte’s inspiring life but to support those who wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to pursue their dreams.
I am selling prints of this piece and for each print sold I am donating towards this incredible foundation.