Many of you know that the end of May was particularly difficult for me and my family. For those who don’t know, among the issues – an I.T. nightmare wreaked havoc on my website, water damage at the studio from a burst water tank above me, but most heartbreaking of all, the unexpected passing of my father-in-law. After taking some personal time away from the studio to celebrate his life and grieve my loss, getting the website back up and running, and finally being water-free…I was glad to see June arrive. Only to be face-to-face with an impending Father’s Day and thinking this June is Jimmy and my first Father’s Day without him. And, I had one of those “grounding” moments…one when the frenzy of the obstacles has passed and you are left with the aftermath. One where you (as trite as it may sound) realize exactly how fleeting life’s moments are, how quickly your world can be thrown upside down. I think we all subconsciously know this, but it’s not until a jolting event occurs that the feeling bubbles back up to the surface and readjusts you. Jimmy and I are still in that shock and readjustment period…getting used to a “new normal” without Dad, and really, that will never be “normal” for us. And, I don’t think our grieving process ever ends. Rather, we settle into our readjustment and have to continue living life – that’s what Dad would want, anyway.
In the weeks since his passing, we have sifted through hundreds of photos from Dad’s house. Photos from him as a child, family photos, silly candids – thousands of fleeting moments immortalized. Photos that have induced laughter, started stories of Jimmy’s childhood, Dad’s childhood, stories that I had never heard before, provoked tears and everything in between. I hold on to those real life moments with my father-in-law and the memories we created as a family – ones that passed so quickly and unknowingly when we were living them – as a means to remember him. And, now from a recent, direct experience, I cannot emphasize enough how cherished all of those portraits are because they can transport me back to those times.
I recently completed an informal interview about me and my business (if you’re interested in a bit more about my background and Lovely Day – I will update this blog post as soon as the interview is posted) and one of the questions posed was:
“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
My answer: Stop being so critical of yourselves. Years from now, when your kids (or really anyone!) look back on those beautiful wedding portraits, family portraits and the like, they will never see that you didn’t finish losing those 10 pounds, or that you didn’t like your hair, or that you’re not perfect. To them you are perfect and I promise they will say something like, “Wow, look how young you were!” Embrace portraits of yourself and always take the photo – you’ll regret it someday if you don’t.
Gosh, did I ever feel that piece of advice resonate within myself recently. I am bearing witness to my own advice as Jimmy and I are the ones looking back today…on photos of a life that was cut short, on times that we will never experience again. One day, one hour, one moment can change your life’s trajectory. Not just with an unfortunate loss, but a job offer…a new baby…meeting the love of your life…anything. Breathe those moments in and take the opportunity (or in many cases simply remember!) to snap a photo. No matter how insignificant it seems at the time it’s taken, years down the line that moment will become monumental.
And recently, as if by divine intervention, I came across this article showcasing Dan Dougherty’s final comic for his Beardo’s series that highlights fatherhood:
Cue my entire tissue box. This must have been what it was like for Dad watching his children grow up. Just like the blink of an eye, not only are his children grown and living with families of their own, but now he himself is no longer here with us to be a part of future memories.
I hear from so many clients, particularly the ones who have growing families, that “the days are long but the years are short.” Nights of crying infants seem to drag but suddenly your little one is off to college and you have no clue how 18 years have passed so quickly, especially since you can remember so vividly rocking and rocking and rocking your little one praying for sleep to come. It seems often that perspective comes from fatherhood or motherhood – from the perspective of a parent to a child. And, while I am sure that is overwhelmingly true…same can be said for the perspective of a child to a parent, particularly when the child has reached an age when he/she truly understand the preciousness and value of life. That’s me….right. now.
So, I suppose Sunday – Father’s Day – resurfaced a few lessons for me:
Take the picture. Just do it, even if they don’t want you too. You’ll regret not having an overabundance of memories otherwise. And, of course, it would be crazy of me if I didn’t say – let me take those portraits for you! As a newborn and wedding photographer, I’ll provide you with quality images that will last more than a lifetime.
Life is fleeting and turns on a dime. Take a moment to tell a loved one how much he/she means to you. Give your dad an extra squeeze on my behalf. Jimmy and I sure wish we could.
Neither Jim or his Dad like to be in photos. However, this perfectly represents them. Together in the kitchen. <3