A mother whose father died when she was seven months pregnant broke down in tears after receiving a surprise Christmas gift in memory of her late dad.
Vanessa Paschal, 22, from Chicago, moved social media media users with a moving video as she unwrapped a portrait of her late father gifted from her boyfriend, Greg Taylor.
In the video, the mother-of-one tears up after opening a hand-painted portrait of her daughter Gia, one, being held by her father, James – who died in September 2019, before he got a chance to meet his granddaughter.
Her reaction to the present has touched hearts on social media, with the clip racking up nearly half a million likes and over 31,100 retweets on Twitter so far.
Vanessa Paschal, 22, from Chicago, (pictured) broke down in tears after receiving a surprise Christmas gift in memory of her late father James
Vanessa’s one-year-old daughter Gia was snapped looking at the hand-painted portrait of her late grandfather James
Vanessa’s father James died of a sudden illness at the age of 49 and was never able to meet her daughter Gia, and the new mother told how difficult the festive period has been without her father.
‘I lost my dad two days before my birthday – he was 49 years old,’ Vanessa told Jam Press.
‘This holiday without him being here has been extremely hard, especially now that I have a daughter of my own.
‘I was really looking forward to my father and my daughter making memories together, but he died of a sudden illness before he could meet her.’
The portrait of Vanessa’s late father was a gift from her boyfriend, Greg Taylor (pictured with Vanessa and one-year-old daughter Gia)
The bespoke painting was done by Indian artist Tejaswini Sharma, and Vanessa admitted that the piece was ‘physically and emotionally hard to look at’.
‘When I unwrapped the gift and realised what it was, my heart dropped. I was seven months pregnant when my dad died, so I didn’t really get to grieve, so I’m still processing everything.
‘It was physically and emotionally hard to look at. My boyfriend got it made for me, I appreciate him so much because he knew how devastated I was, especially that our daughter would never meet her grandfather.’
Vanessa went on: ‘I loved my dad so much and I was such a daddy’s girl. So everything hit me really hard.
The bespoke painting was done by Indian artist Tejaswini Sharma, and Vanessa admitted that the piece was ‘physically and emotionally hard to look at’
In the video, the mother-of-one teared up after opening a hand-painted portrait of her daughter Gia, one, being held by James
‘There is nothing that can describe the feeling of losing a parent. Nothing.. You feel very empty; there’s a void that can never be filled.
‘Coming to terms with the grieving process is hard and over a year later, I’m coming to terms with the fact that my grieving will never end.’
Sharing a beautiful snap of her adorable one-year-old sitting in front of the art piece, staring at her granddad’s face, Vanessa penned: ‘My dad died last year while I was seven months pregnant.
‘My man had this portrait hand-painted all the way in India. Now my daughter has a piece of her Papa forever.’
Her reaction to her father’s portrait (pictured) has touched hearts on social media, with the Tweet racking up nearly half a million likes and over 31,100 retweets so far
Social media users praised the open display of grief, with many offering their condolences – as well as sharing their own stories of losing a loved one.
One person wrote: ‘OMG, I am just destroyed by the energy in your first picture, but in the best way because your love and grief is SO clearly evident. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I am so happy you have this beautiful reminder now to have close at hand, for you and your daughter.’
‘Losing a parent when your expecting a child and seeing how excited they were to meet their grandchild is even worse. Lost my dad when my lady was six months pregnant. Our children help us through it’, said another.
Another person wrote: ‘I just lost my dad a few weeks ago. I send you all my love. The pain is so unimaginably intense sometimes it’s hard to keep going. I am here on his journey with you. Your man is so great. Stay up.’
Vanessa’s father James died of a sudden illness at the age of 49 and was never able to meet her daughter Gia. Pictured, Vanessa as a baby with dad James
‘I lost my father this past February and your face in the first photo just hit me in my gut,’ added someone else. ‘I’m thankful your baby will grow up with that painting of your father but I’m so sad for your loss.’
Vanessa hopes the portrait of Gia and her father will give her daughter a connection to the granddad she will never know.
She added: ‘When my daughter looks at the portrait in a few years, I hope she feels love, warmth, and happiness. A connection to him.’
Social media users praised the open display of grief, with many offering their condolences – as well as sharing their own stories of losing a loved one