My dear friends lost their son shortly after he was delivered. Yesterday I attended his graveside memorial service, knowing that what I was about to witness had broken my heart long before the service began.
My life consists of many significant days. My first day of college, my wedding day, the birth of both my children, our first house, that one profound conversation with a friend that lasts a lifetime. Some days are significant to others as well as myself, and yesterday was surely one of those days.
My other photographer friend and I had asked whether or not they would like us to take pictures during the service, and with a swift "yes--please", I prepared my lens and camera more carefully than ever before. It was my job to capture the details and record that day--to somehow gather those moments of reflection, sadness, and eternal hope so that they could have something to hold onto. From the words of the babes sweet mother, "we want as much of him as we can get."
The moment I walked up I began to survey the situation to figure out where to photograph first. I scanned the crowd of people and noticed many of those who I was already familiar with as well as those I recognized to be the extended family. I crept around as carefully as I could so that my shutter's "click" would not detract from what was being said. Finally, I got close enough up front to see the tiny white casket. A blue blanket lay over the top, a bouquet of flowers adorned the edge, and his picture, during the last few minutes of his life, sat framed right beside. There was no doubt as to who we were mourning. As I crept closer with my lens, I was overcome by the scene that went on before me.
There his mother sat with white roses on her lap, and his daddy spoke of him with such courage that I stared in awe. His love and humor in such a dark hour was astonishing to behold. The click of my shutter seemed wrong somehow. How dare I detract from this moment? My eyes were blurry and I could not focus. There was laughter, there were tears, there were thoughts reflecting a somber yet eternal outlook on what had transpired. Plans that would never fall into place. Arguments between little brothers that would never be. Exhaustion felt by a mother of two would only be felt as exhaustion for one. My heart lept in confusion. How would I deal with such a tragedy? An expectation of life for nine months suddenly torn away without notice. I dare not ask.
A sweet tenor voice began in song and I realized that it was an opportune time for me to walk around the hedge with Brianna so that I might get a different view with my camera. I walked on tip toes so my heals on the pavement would not be heard and shushed Brianna to do the same. The song was gorgeous, a more perfect singer and a more perfect song could not have been sung. Suddenly in the middle of the verse, the singing stopped. My eyes darted to where he stood and I realized he could not go on. How could he? How could anyone? How could this family that I loved keep going after such a loss? How could I go on...knowing the suffering of another? I bent down below the hedge as the singer mustered enough courage to continue with his song. It was there that I wept. I held my daughter in my arms and I wept.
As the song finished I moved yet again and found myself viewing everyone that was there. I was behind the hedge of those who were speaking, and I witnessed more emotion than I dared prepare for. As his mother stood up to speak, she could not, and his father quickly removed himself from his chair to stand beside her. He held her, and they embraced as she spoke of her lost son. The spirit was overwhelming as she spoke of the day that she would see him again, and in that moment, I knew she would.
I was one of the last to leave. I didn't want to go. I glanced back at the tiny white casket searching for something more, something else to record with my camera that I must have missed. Wasn't there one more shot I was to get? Perhaps the symbolism of only the white casket--alone. And then I felt a wind, somehow warmer than the rest, and I realized he wasn't in that tiny casket. He was in God's House, with Him...and he was Home.
Carrie lives in Florida with her Husband of 9 years, daughter Brianna (7), son Kai (3) and Spike the Bulldog. Her passions are motherhood, her photography business (carriestroudphotography.com) and trying to make the perfect chocolate chip cookies. She tries to be exceptionally good at atleast one of those things. You guess which one! Writing has always been a passion for her and she comes from a long line of published authors. She is often very real in her approach, and although some might find her expressions too "raw", they are honest and reflect her life as is. Carrie is a bit dramatic, loves household design, and if anyone has that perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, please be a dear and pass it along! You can read more of Carries adventures at The Rowdy Stroudys.