The Bench

Graduation season is upon us with all of the excitement and anticipation that graduation brings. For me, it brings an element of melancholy. I love things that are consistent, the same, and yet with the excitement of the future, I grab hold of the past. This week many will end their high school and college careers and begin their futures — the taste of the bitter along with the sweet. Ten years ago this week Evan and his friends walked across the stage at Vacaville Christian Schools setting their sights on the future and what it holds.

A few weeks ago I came across Evan's senior photos. It was always my intention that my kids be able to express themselves within reason, and senior photos were no different. Even now, as a photographer, I so want people that I photograph to be there authentic self. Evan chose a friend, Looking Glass Photographs, to do his senior photo, and I love that she captured him so well.

While looking through the photo, I wanted to find the place where his photos were taken. As I looked through the pictures and as I drove around Vacaville looking for the place that had "The Bench" I realized that I'd lived in Vacaville 30 year and never really saw a bench like the one in the photos. The place that I was looking for had hills, trees, grassy areas, and a baseball diamond, the universal look of nearly every park in the US. But it had some unique things that I knew if I tried hard enough, I could find them.

Last week on my way home from Sacramento I drove through Davis which would have been a place that Evan would have wanted to do photos. He loved Davis, and so much of our time was spent there as a family. I stopped near the park that seemed the most likely, Slide Hill Park. After getting out and looking around, it became clear to me that was not the location. I continued to drive home and passed Community Park and thought maybe but I was hungry and cold, and I need to look again at the photos.

So today after work I picked up my camera and some items that mean something to me; art pieces, photographs, Evan's ashes, and his original draft of "Ley LInes" his first published poem and set out to find "The Bench." After doing some research, I realized that Community Park was probably my best choice, and as I carried my bags towards the skate park in the distance, I saw it...The Bench. Many things about the park have changed, but the overall layout has remained the same. The tree that was in the background of the photo of Evan on the bench has grown, and as I sat and looked around, I felt this genuine connection to this space that once was occupied by my son. It was surreal. I could see him hang on the fence, laying back in the grass, and thinking deeply about life. I set up my makeshift memorial, and I too pondered many things while sitting there.

So much of my grief journey has been about looking back to go forward. It seems to those watching that something is broken if the past is what you cling too. Well, I am broken, but in my brokenness, I see life through a different lens. Not a better lens just different. Ten years ago, Evan graduated from high school. If he had lived, he would have graduated from college Spring of 2017 and who knows what other things he would have accomplished. I say that because he does not have a future here on Earth. Evan’s future is now walking around in the lives of 5 other people who 931 days ago got the heart, lungs, and kidneys of our boy. Our other son, Alex, is raising awareness about organ donations through hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I say this with all confidence that we (John and I) couldn't be prouder of our sons. Proud of their sacrifice and proud of their decisions.

https://www.gofundme.com/PCT-NDLM

Christmas Sweaters, Sheep Hats, and Songs Unsung.

Most of my days are filled with busyness. My photography business is thriving in this season. My job keeps me busy with community stuff. We/I are surrounded by an extensive circle of friends and family. I’ve not written much over the last few weeks. Its very hard sometimes to convey the thoughts and pondering of a grieving parent. The holidays are filled with wonder and magic…grief although not part of the Christmas story it’s those early memories of birth and life that make the holidays at times so hard. This is our third Christmas without Evan and although softer the edges are still rough. https://whatsyourgrief.com/grief-made-you-cry-holiday-season/?fbclid=IwAR0hPT1OGomkWkK62J4EhRx34Kk84rWyPtbEGKudH5z84wR-t7jLkBSqN_4

Some of the sweet memories of long ago Christmas’ are not very fresh in my mind. It’s not until I go to a sweet school program and see children dressed in their holiday bests does the rush of memories return. Most days I can be present with friends who are enjoying seeing their kiddos perform the best and sweetest Christmas tunes. But in those moments the file cabinet opens, and the files start flying out. With that, I’m immediately ushered to a Christmas program from Pre-School or Kindergarten days with my boys. It was always something that was important to us to be at our kids' programs. Wise man costumes, Christmas sweaters, sheep hats and so much more. Most of my ponderings are melancholy. I miss those days and on some level miss that for Evan I will never see these kinds of days played out with his kiddos. That the planet will not see songs sung by Evan’s kiddos. Yes, this is what this grieving mom thinks. I’m not alone in this thought. We miss the future, and we look to hold on to the past. Holidays are sticky that way especially when you have memories that are tied to traditions, and you’ve not started new ones cause it’s too painful to change the one thing you miss so much. We are trying new things and seeing what works and tweak them as we go. Maybe the thing that makes my heart sing and cry is that I choose to be present with friends who currently are experiencing these great moments. I see the love they have for their child and the special way their heart sings when they see their kiddo perform. It takes me back to those moments and just for a split second I’m transformed to that time in history when I too had a heart that sung and burst with love for my kiddos as they performed.

What I've Learned...

These are just a few of the things I’ve learned over the last two year since Evan’s death. The 2nd year has been one of the hardest as I’ve come out of the fog of the first year to find that time and people keep moving. Leaving me far behind and at times unable or wanting to catch up. I’ve learned that grief has no timeline for those who are grieving, but it does for those who aren’t. I’ve learned that everyone grieves differently and as much as you might want to be understood there will only be a few that can walk along the path with you. It takes a lot of work, patience, and love. It’s not for everyone, and most of it is yours to own. I’ve learned about myself through group and individual counseling that grief has a way of shaking up our lives and through the help of others taking the brokenness of our past gives us hope for the future. I’ve learned the incredible void that has been left in my life now that Evan is not physically here. I see that void in others as well, but that’s not my story to tell. I’ve learned that the 2nd year is by far harder than the first and the further away I get from my real/earthly time with Evan the space between the then and now becomes quieter. What’s not quiet are my thoughts…pictures and memories are never silent. They are the things that keep you in the present, and I desire to keep you present. I'm your mom, and you’re important to me so I will ALWAYS want to keep you present and I’m giving myself permission to do so. I’ve learned that the Lord in the midst of our yearning and longing gives us Hope and comfort. That He allows that space between Heaven and Earth to come together so that we can be comforted by not only those around us but also by those who we have released to His loving care. I’ve learned that who I was before Evan’s death has changed and that I will never be her again. Grief and loss don’t define me but they’ve changed me. That who I am now is different…and who I was will not return. That person I was is missed at times, but she no longer fits in the space that I now currently occupy.

Tonight we will come together to remember and to use the spoken word to do that. You now become a part of the great cloud of witnesses who contiues to cheer us on and remind us that you are not that far away.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Sunflowers and what they're teaching me...

We are just a few weeks away from the start of Fall. It’s hard to imagine that when we have days that the temperature is close to 100 degrees but by the ticking of time the calendar inches closer to the date that signifies to us that cooler weather and falling leaves is around the corner. There is something that always tugs in me as we say so long to summer and welcome the coming of fall. I’m kinda a big fan of most of the seasons but fall and spring are usually my favorites. Spring as it brings the beauty of new birth after a winter of loss. Summer is filled with long days in the sun and warm evenings of smooth conversations. Fall brings with it the vibrant changes in nature and for me it was always a time to plan for significant milestones as it is my birthday season and the birth dates for my boys. 

Much of the joy and excitement of fall has changed for me since Evan’s death. There is almost this resistance/hesitance to slow down the movement of time. I can’t really explain it other than fall was always such a great season for me but I have sustain such a significant amount of loss during this season I want to stay parked in summer indefinitly. The reason being is maybe not so obvious to most but summer is easier. There are no time constraints. The days are longer the nights are shorter and the sunflowers are blooming. All of it doesn’t remind me that soon you will need to start walking towards fall. Because fall holds with its beauty a measure of pain. 

This year in my travels the process of this beauty for ashes was much more evident for me as I watched the transformation of my beloved sunflowers. If you follow me even a little you know I start my search for sunflowers in early May as they are just starting the growing season here locally. I try hard to extend my watch through the summer but this year I went out to some of the fields as they were dying. The significance of the dying process for sunflowers is just as important as the beauty they bring to us as we drive by the fields. It permitted me to be fully part of the loss of these flowers and to understand the great impact they have in their beauty and in their dying. 

Today, September 9th. 2018,  which is 22 months since Evan's death and is a few months shy of what would be his 28th birthday. Alex and I will celebrate our birthdays next month. The Earth will keep spinning. The trees will change and days will get shorter. But what I wonder does the significance of Evan’s life that was so vibrant when he was living continue in his dying?? Does the impact he made continue even though he isn’t here to have his voice heard? As I ponder those things I think of the beautiful sunflowers.  

https://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/yolo-grows-sunflower-seeds-for-the-world/

Raelin (Rae) James the 4th and Final 8/5/18

It always makes for a fun day when I can go and spend time with a momma and her kiddos. It's even more fun when a newborn is involved and I get to take photos with all of them. Here are a few shots from my time with Little Miss Raelin. Loads of cuddles, yawns and wide eyed looks. All the while as her brother and Rae's sweet sisters look on. Thanks Vanessa for taking some pics of me too. I love watching kids be excited about photography.

Bouquets to Art at the de Young Museum

On Thursday I went into the city with a friend to the de Young Museum. The exhibition was called Bouquets to Art and it runs for one week with the last being on Sunday the 18th of March. This year, it’s 34th, the opening Gala was on Monday the 12th with a special VIP tour of all of the floral displays. The proceeds from Bouquets to Art help to underwrite exhibitions, conservation projects, and education programs at the Fine Art Museums. 

I have always wanted to go to this beautiful exhibition but it has never worked out and I honestly didn’t want to go by myself. So this year I found someone who has the same love and passion for art and flowers so we went. If you haven’t been to the de Young it is near the California Academy of Science and it can sometimes be hard to find parking. We missed the rain on our walk to the museum but weren’t as fortunate on our departure but it was fun just the same.

It was very crowded when we arrived but we started from the top and worked our way around the different galleries. As someone who is intrigued by floral design, I was so impressed with many of the florists' renderings of their art piece. The florists used so many different textures and flora to create these unique pieces.  I had several that I loved and when I came home and downloaded the photos they were just as beautiful as I experienced in person.

If you have the opportunity to go to this exhibition I highly recommend it.  Thank you, Christy, for going with me and for the great conversations we had. Love you!

I’ve included the link to the de Young for this exhibition.

https://deyoung.famsf.org/exhibitions/bouquets-to-art-2018

 

 

Reflections, wondering and pondering....On the 4th Day of Christmas.

The holidays are always a time for reflection...as the year comes to an end and you look expectantly towards the New Year. I’m not really sure if I’ve lost the expectant part at times it feels like it. I am definitely reflecting and pondering. 

Mary pondered these things and kept them in her heart…. Luke 2:19

Mary pondered these things and kept them in her heart…. Luke 2:19

 

The story of the birth of Jesus is so large but these words of the ponderings of Mary and the insight they give to her in those first moments bring together so many feels. I believe that if Mary was a ponderer at this young age she did not stop her ponderings as she became a mother to the son of God and watched him grow. I think of myself as a ponderer. I remember so many moments as I looked at my kids at every season of their life and thought…. what are they thinking? What will life for them look like? I always was pondering for the todays and tomorrows. Was Mary any different? Did she ponder what her other friends were doing? Did she wonder if Jesus was eating enough? Gaining enough weight for his age? What friends would he make?

 

I do not want to come across as flippant because that is not my heart. The story of Jesus is both beautiful and holy. I do see so many parallels to my life experience and hers as a mom. I see her eyes as she watched her son carry his cross down the Via Delarosa. Do you think she saw the eyes of her infant son looking back at her? I don’t know but I can tell you she saw the depth of his soul and that is something I know she had pondered. When you raise your child you know them…. you see them. I don’t think Mary was any different. She saw Jesus. She knew him as only a mother could. I love that part.

 

I’ve been quiet the last month. November was hard in ways that could not be expressed in a quick post, Instagram or Facebook story. I’ve pondered many things as I’ve moved through this last year. I’ve thumbed through old journals, photos, schoolwork, and notes. All of my ponderings over all of the 26 years of Evan’s life have been so that I had those to last me the rest of my life, as he would not be here to live them out. That on some level has brought a bit of comfort but the sadness of it has been evident to my momma’s heart. I’m grateful for all of the other folks I’ve met during this year of mourning. I have felt so accepted by those who are in similar circumstances…I’ve especially appreciative those who have lost their adult child and the similar ways it has connected us. 

On the First Day of Christmas...the Geminids Meteor Shower.

Last night I braved the cold to capture my first meteor shower and it did not disappoint. I thought I had only captured one or two but after getting home and downloading I captured more then I had hoped. The night sky was beautiful and although I came home before the moon rose (my hands and feet frozen) these first captures were so fun and I'm glad I went. I might need different equipment next time. If you look closely my shutter speed was slow and you can see the red embers as it shoots across the sky.  Enjoy these photos from last night...

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!  Matthew 2:10 

The Full Cold Supermoon ~ December 2017

When I looked up when the full moon was for December I was excited to learn that the Cold Full Moon is the only Supermoon for 2017. The planets have been busy this year with the eclipse happening this last August. My blog post about that is here http://www.dawnkincadephotography.com/my-adventures/2017/8/17/solar-eclipse

I set out earlier this evening to find a clear spot to watch for it on the horizon. There were a few low clouds so as the moon was rising there were a bit of not only clouds but the atmosphere caused a bit of distortion. I parked along the roadway near an open field and capture a bit of the wildlife as I waited for the moon to rise. it was hard to tell where it was rising from but the clouds started to glow and then I saw a small sliver poke through the clouds. Listening to Christmas carols and thinking of what it must have been like so many thousands of years ago as Mary was expectantly waiting for her son to be born. I'm in awe of the Lord and the beauty He has created for us to enjoy. Enjoy these photos. It was really a beautiful thing to observe.