Spring Forward, Fall is Back...

"How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days." - John Burroughs

Sunday, September 23rd marked the beginning of Fall, and that always brings about all of the Fall feelings. The one thought at the forefront in my mind is that I miss Evan. This isn’t a rare thing as I miss Evan every day, but maybe I'm anticipating the fact that this will be another birthday without him. This time of year has always been a favorite of mine. All the colors, the cooler mornings and warm afternoons, the anticipation of celebrations and just the vibe of Fall...but alas I'm overcome with melancholy. I know it will dissipate over time only to come back sometimes strong than when it left, but it lingers through January. The new year and winter time brings its own set of emotions and feelings with it.

I'm trying hard to be in a different state of mind as I approach this birthday. I'm battling the voices and memories inside my head that want to take me back and then yank me forward. I want to find a place that is restoring/filling me, but I also want to be mindful of remembering. When you are mentioned, you are present, and my desperate need for you to be in the present with me is the thing that I think is the most difficult for those who don't understand. I can't help but think that I'm celebrating yet another birthday and you are not here. That I will continue to celebrate birthdays and you won’t be here. That my future does not hold you and yet the past is filled with you. So the question is where do I want to be? And where should I be? The answer to these ponderings can't be answered by me at this time cause the space between the want and should is too vast.

The last few weeks I've kept busy with event photography and other thing photography related. I've been working, and in all the busyness I've been able to keep the memories that are inside my head at bay. That doesn't change that you won't be here to give me a hug or debate the latest political challenges. That makes me weepy...pretty much most of my memories make me weepy. I know it makes people uncomfortable. I know they want it to be ok. I know that they have the best intentions. I know that I'm loved and cared for in the best way. I just feel on some level that I've been cheated, robbed of moments in the future. I sometimes think that I worry about what people think. I’m learning that in all of this I am ok. That what I do and what I say can be judged, but in the end, I must walk out my grief in the way that fits me. I’m grateful for people who understand this truth. I’m especially thankful to my son Alex who walks along this path with me. Although we each are walking our own way, I realize that a portion of this journey we are walking in tandem with each other. Helping each other to take the next step and at times stopping to mourn our loss together. The vacancy of our loss is real to us as a family and the pain of that is raw and at times so very painful.

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/

Tuesday's Child is full of Grace.....Ily Anice Shorter 10/17/17

I had the privilege of photographing the birth of Miss Ily Anice Shorter today. Her momma started labor on Monday the 16th and progressed slowly until about 8:07am today, Tuesday the 17th. At which point progression only had gone to 5.5cm. Suddenly though there was a need to push and her water broke and she went from 5.5cm to delivering Ily at 8:26am. It was amazing and crazy and beautiful. Lori and Jason were the best team..with Jason winning the "Best Doula" award in my opinion. He was calm, loving and the best coach ever. Lori allowed us into a space that is normally reserved for just the parents and the medical staff. It was an honor to be a part of such a intimate experience and to share this moment with both of Ily's grandmothers. Ily was named by her brother Zeke who I might add was so loving and tender when he met his sweet sister today. the wonder, tenderness and kindness he showed to his Momma, Daddy and sister made me cry. I also found out today that she shares a birthday with her Uncle on her mother's side and a great-great grandmother on her father's side. 

I'm sure your folks can't wait to tell the story of the day you were born. It was a lovely one to say the least!

Happy Birthday, Ily!! You are so loved by your family.

 

 

Reaching Back

As I come to the conclusion of this last week of celebrating my entrance on to the planet I was asked a question that strangely I've been pondering over the last several months, even before these questions were asked. The question was...as you start a new birthday year what were the highs and lows of last year? and what are your goals for this year?  Now as you read this and if you know me you can almost guess the low was/is the death of my son, Evan. This was the lowest time of my life not just of this year. I miss Evan every day but maybe it was the anticipation of the fact that this would be my first birthday without him which made me reflective and heart sick. I honestly don't get why I have to be without him on my birthday...I should be happy I got 26 birthdays. Kinda the glass half full but alas I miss Evan and feel cheated to not have him here. Reflectively as I look back I can say that one of the highs is my last birthday spent together as a family in Napa. I felt pampered and lucky to have such great people who love me....by celebrating and honoring me. In this same way this year Alex gathered many of the people he knew would be a blessing as I celebrate this first birthday without Evan. It was one of my greatest moments as I begin this birthday year. Although Evan's absence is always so real for me the gathering of friends to celebrate help me to feel his presecence in a way that brought great comfort....and just a few tears.

Preserves for my birthday.

Preserves for my birthday.

Love you.

Love you.

More of my tribe...Love you.

More of my tribe...Love you.

My kite flyers and the people that put them together.

My kite flyers and the people that put them together.

Another kite flyers

Another kite flyers

As I mentioned above some of the highs from last year and this year for me was the collective group of community that surrounded our family during and through this last year of loss. I can say that many have stayed connected to us and have walked beside us. I have forged new friendship with others who have lost their children and that has been a welcomed refuge for me. To have others who have walked this road a head of me and are reaching back to me and encouraging me forward has been truly a blessing that I wouldn't want to overlook. They have helped this journey to not be so lonely as many who grieve do so alone as grief is very personal and most just can't go there.  Many of Evan's friends have reached out and have stayed connected to us and have been a source of such connection and hope for me. I know that on some level many of them still feel such sadness and grief related to Evan and I want them to know that I can and will go there if they need to have a space for their grief.

So the other question that was asked of me was about my goals for the coming year...my goals as I move into a new birthday year is I want to continue to move in a healthy direction with my grief. I feel confident that this journey is one that can be hard to figure out. Once you think your moving forward something comes along to shake your very foundation and it takes you two steps back.  I will continue to read books, participate in groups, and continue to connect with those in my influence who need to see Hope in the sadness of grief. Because with Jesus nothing is wasted and this life that He has given to me is valuable.

I've set some goals about my photography that I can only hope will be positive for me. I want to give more time to the building of that area of my career life so that means change is on the horizon. I'm also wanting to look at more way to come along side those who are having difficult circumstances to capture moments that for them might otherwise go un-captured with those precious memories lost. I'm trying some new things and seeing what fits for me. I want to also spend time exploring Evan's writings. I really wanted to collaborate with him on a project that combines my art/photography with his writing but he is not here to work beside me. So in his absence I hope to bring life to his words that always seemed to have such depth and insight. 

It has been a good birthday week. I miss Evan and there is never, ever a moment that he isn't on my mind. My heart is broken but I'm not broken. Evan gives me the courage to forge ahead. #11

Gwen Turns One.

Little Gwen was one of my Fresh 48's that I did in 2016. Her momma was a trooper as she labored many hours before this princess decided it was time to arrive on the scene. I was so impressed that both Natalie and Aaron seemed at ease during the first few hours after Gwen's arrival. I was thankful for a healthy birth and for two parents who I knew would be all about parenting this little. Fast forward to this year and time has gone full speed ahead and Gwen will be turning one in May. Thank you~Aaron and Natalie for including me in this special family event. There is nothing more special then seeing one of the newborns you photographed turn ONE!!