We Don’t Photograph The Ordinary 3


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I’ve been mulling a serious post for two months, and then tonight my husband said something that made me stop in my tracks.

“We don’t photograph the ordinary–we think it will last forever.” 

What prompted this?  Looking for pictures of a boy who spent days and weeks at our house for YEARS.  A sweet boy who died in a motorcycle accident this past week at the young age of twenty-two.

How?  How do we not have one picture of this sweet boy? 

We don’t photograph the ordinary–we think it will last forever. 

How many days at the pool did we have a dozen or more kids who grew into teenagers? I was busy watching, counting heads, refereeing fights, etc. As they became older, I watched from the window in the kitchen while cooking dinner or making snacks for the passel of teens that would be raiding my house for food at any moment. Do I have pictures? No. We get caught in the business of life, and we forget to photograph the ordinary.

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I can still see my son playing video games, leaping in the air, jumping with his characters down ski slopes and bending to round curves.  I wish I had taken the time to snap a photo or take a video.

My daughter played her oboe or violin for hours and hours daily in our house for years.  I have no videos or photos of her doing this.  It was part of our daily routine, we don’t think about it when theh mundane is happening.

We don’t photograph the ordinary.

It’s been a sad year at our house– my son has lost three friends–all to motorcycles and one has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. We lost a fifteen-year-old neighbor to an ATV accident; my daughter babysat him and his sister for over eight years.  Also, we have a friend who had a child undergo a serious surgery who in the process almost died, but thankfully due to skilled surgeons, staff and the power of prayer the child survived.

And our year is not over yet….

It’s at times like these that I’m glad as humans we don’t know what the future holds. That we love and live our lives never knowing when our last moment will be with someone.  That when we become parents, we don’t know the heartache or pain that small child may bring into our lives. I’m glad we don’t know how the lives of our parents will end, or how our lives will end for that matter.

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I remember people saying to me, “I would never be able to deal with an infant with colic and sleep apnea AND a two-year-old.”  I always wanted to respond, “Yeah, me neither.”  Thankfully, I hadn’t known the cards I would be dealt.

The parents of both the teen and the twenty-two-year-old had no idea that their child would precede them in dying. Thank God.  There are just some things you’re better off not knowing.  And the parents of the child who almost died thankfully didn’t know how close they’d come to losing their child. We schedule surgeries, vacations, bike rides, weekends at the cabin, trips to the store–and never know it will be the last time we kiss someone or see someone–or never know that we’ll have a close call.

It’s at times of mourning that you contemplate life and death. There is a Christian Proverb that says “It is better to go to a House of Mourning than to go to a House of Feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.”

We have been taking it to heart…somedays maybe too much.  I find myself holding my grown children a little longer.  I see both my kids doing deeds of kindness– buying me ice cream or flowers, or saying”I love you Mom” a little more. My husband and I have been cuddling more…and sighing more.  It’s a sad reminder to watch friends lose their children or come close…and you find yourself thankful… and, yet, feeling guilty.

This seems rambling….and it probably is…I feel rambling lately.  Death is in the destiny of everyone. In the process of your busy lives, make memories, photograph memories, and more than that–photograph the ordinary.   Hold family closer, kiss them longer, tell them you love them.  I kissed my daughter’s cheek the other day and teared up, saying, “Your skin is so soft, I’d miss that if you were gone.”  We both cried.

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The House of Mourning has made us all aware of the “ordinary” things we’d miss– my son’s charming, crooked smile, the softness of my daughter’s cheek, her sensitive, kind heart,  my son’s corny jokes, my husband’s wink, his funny sense of humor and sensitivity or his arms holding me tightly.

And it is yet a reminder of the sweet boy I won’t see again– his long gangly arms with his dimpled smile, opening my fridge to see what he can eat. The sweet blonde haired boy across the street playing basketball.  I never thought I’d miss the pounding of that ball on the driveway, but I do.  The House of Mourning reminds me that I miss my mother’s voice, her laugh–I miss hearing her on my answering machine (I still can’t erase her last message and it’s been 12 years). My father-in-law eating strawberry ice cream on my porch, teasing my husband mercilessly. My best friend’s contagious giggle, sitting on the floor having a picnic or her calling my husband ‘Lover Boy.’  The House of Mourning reminds me to cherish these small, simple, ordinary things.

Life has many lessons, and blessings, if we look for them.  Watch for opportunities to love, laugh, and show acts of kindness.  

Death is the destiny of everyone, the living should take this to heart

We don’t photograph the ordinary

memories


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3 thoughts on “We Don’t Photograph The Ordinary

  • Ruth Staunton

    Thank you for sharing this. I think I needed it tonight. I’ve just come from dinner with my mother, my sister, and a group of friends where we all laughed and reminisced about the guy we all knew who was killed extremely unexpectedly in a freak car accident last night. I wouldn’t say we were friends exactly, but I wouldn’t say we weren’t either. I’ve known his family all my life. He was something of a legendary character in our small town. Everyone knew him, and I don’t think anyone ever considered the possibility that he suddenly wouldn’t be.