Artist paints picture of Officer Lehner to comfort his family for the holiday

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HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) — Kathy Lehner’s eyes filled with tears as looked at a special painting of her son for the first time.

“The blue eyes, cause his eyes were so blue and they’re so noticeable. It’s all in the eyes,” said Kathy Lehner, Officer Craig Lehner’s mother.

In the painting Officer Lehner is in heaven. Jesus has a hand on his shoulder and his arm around him, hand on his heart, as K9 Shield watches.

“Shield has to be included. They were, when they walked together shield would walk beside him and just look up at him it was like a look of adoration,” said Kathy Lehner.

That same look is illustrated in this painting too, with a tear.

“The tear to me doesn’t necessarily mean sadness I think it’s a tear of happiness, that he’s in a good place,” said Kathy Lehner.

And that’s exactly what local artist Fran Lagana-Brooks wanted to show Officer Lehner’s family. Before today she had never met Kathy Lehner before but said she felt compelled to offer her family comfort. She too, knows what it feels like to grieve.

“I thought back to when my husband had died, I did a painting for myself of him. It was a very unusual painting but it gave me a lot of peace when I looked at it,” said Fran Lagana-Brooks, artist.

Officer Lehner’s sister says the painting gives her a feeling of peace and comfort at a time their family needs it the most.

“We’re trying to make Christmas the usual Christmas but in the back of all of our minds it’s hard because he’s not here,” said Donna Wilson, Officer Craig Lehner’s sister.

“When I saw it i knew that, I knew that Jesus really is taking care of him,” said Haleigh Wilson, Officer Craig Lehner’s niece.

“He looks happy, he looks like he’s fine there he’s trying to tell you look at me I’m in the arms of the lord. I’m well taken care of,” said Kathy Lehner.

And though Christmas will be the family’s first without Craig there, they feel this painting is a sign he’ll be watching.

“Gives us the hope and faith that we’re looking for that he is looking down on us,” said Donna Wilson.

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