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.

Touch of Heaven

This morning at maybe 3:30am you entered into my dreams, and that has not happened to me since before the accident. I hung between waking and sleep just because the realness of your presence was tangible. When I finally had woken up I wanted to write all of it down. I’m weeping cause the nearness of you was so real. I could see you and sense you as if you genuinely were here. You were whole. I saw you just like you were before you left to go out with your friends. Nearly clear shaven and haircut like the first photo in this gallery. Your eyes had a smile in them. You held me in the hug that always brought comfort and understanding. You had on a black sweatshirt I remember that you wore and black jeans. I heard you downstairs in the bathroom you were looking in the mirror. You saw me and said I know you don’t think I’m here, but it’s me. You came to me, and you gave me the biggest hug, and you said I know you miss me. I couldn’t speak. I wish I could have said more to you although it didn't seem necessary. You seemed to understand. You seemed to know that I miss you. That all of us miss you. I honestly have not cried as much as I have in the last few days as I have since you died. These aren't just tears this is guttural crying from the depths of my soul. My soul cries for you. Thank you for reaching out from eternity to let me know you understand our longing for you. That you see the longing, your brother has for you. That you know how much you are missed. The ache in my heart is without quenching, but I also am so thankful that you came to me. Thank you for such a great hug. I wish so much that you were here and although I know that cannot be I'm grateful Evan that you reached out from eternity to give your mom a hug and hold me close. Grief has a strange way of showing up in the time and space that you least expect it. Today it took my breath away and I am still trying to make sense of all of the feelings that it brings.


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/

Where have you been?!?!?!

It has been a while since I last blogged. I’m not sure why only that life has been a bit glum, and the words have disappeared. Perhaps the words came earlier in this journey because the desperateness I was feeling from the initial shock of Evan dying or maybe they just continued so that the Lord could guide me towards a path of healing. Perhaps I have no idea, and in my way, I want to find the answers. All I know is that my words had gone silent. 

So much can be said about this season. As a person trying to promote a business and also reaching out to those who are hurting I sometimes find myself in the unfortunate space of having envy. Now that can look like a lot of things when you break it down, but I mostly envy all that will not or all that is yet to be. Guess that’s why it’s called envy. There is no end to it and society is enslaved by it. We live in an age of being in people’s front room by merely scrolling through IG or FB and drenched in people’s opinion just by responding to a post or thread. The noise and chatter are overwhelming, and it leaves little room for pondering or true evaluation.

I think that what I need is understanding as the places that I land on and the threads I scroll through leave me empty, shattered and unloved. I want a connection with people, and I am connected, but many times it feels as though something is missing. Most of the time I feel the emptiness of Evan not being here. Not that he would be with me at every event or outing. It's just that I miss him. It probably doesn't help that my husband and son are on a backpacking adventure and are on week two of a 4-week journey.  

I sometimes think with all that is going on I've forgotten the sound of my voice. 

Recently I spent time in the mountains and found little time for reflections as the busyness kept me from thinking or pondering too deeply. It wasn't until I traveled back home and the hollow feeling of loss came over me and left me feeling overwhelmed and anxious…nauseous really. When I finally got home and uploaded the photos from my nature walk in Yosemite that I thought that somehow in the busyness the Lord brought comfort as is His way when it comes to my photography. Photography gives me space to feel the full impact of what is going on within my heart and mind for grief is a constant thing.  It doesn’t rest or take a break. Sometimes it's a quiet whisper other times a raging sea...It can go from a sweet memory to a full-on belly cry. But alas it is constant. 

Grief is hard. And as much as we try to avoid it, we can't. We are all grieving something or someone. So when I'm feeling consumed by it. Shunned by it. Avoided by it. I have to remember who I am and to whom I belong. That the Lord is near to the broken-hearted. That He holds my tears in a jar. That those that I love He sees and that He sees me. He comes close to me. He values me. He sees my worth, and my heart ache. It doesn't scare Him or frighten Him. He comes CLOSER! So much comfort.  

The Gift of a Family Through Adoption

Just about a week ago I had the unique opportunity to capture the adoption proceedings for a new friend. This particular adoption was unique in that the family of the adopted child was part of the process and it was something I have always wanted to participate in. The adopting family, The Hemsley's, have two biological children and now with this adoption, they have three adoptive children two of which are siblings. The whole family took an oath of commitment and it truly was an awesome experience. 

One of the sweetest parts for me...well there were a few really...was that UC Davis has this program called Princess Pals at UC Davis check them out on Facebook. These are undergrad med students who dress up and attend special events for kiddos. I've posted the Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/PrincessPalsUCD/

The other sweet thing is that Renee Hemsley, Executive Director, of https://www.hopes-anchor-inc.org/about which is a group that Encourage, Equip, Educate, Engage the Foster and Adoptive communities in Yolo County. She is passionate and fully engaged. Putting hands and feet to the needs of foster and adoptive families. It was a blessing and honor to serve their family as they do what they are called to do. Yolo County has been doing some great things and I'm grateful for my connections in this community.   

Lastly, what made this extra special for me is that this all happened on the day that would have marked my Dad's 89th birthday. It was pretty amazing!!

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. 

Glimpses of Me

For me, it seems that most days are not without some degree of sadness. I try hard to be who I was before Evan died and at times I think that person is still there. Grief has a way of changing who we once were. Oh, I see glimpses of her….some of those glimpses are good some of them not so much. All of the same hurts, insecurities, simple pleasures and wonders are present but all of them are now sifted through grief. I have watched people and places that have always been solid places for me begin to disappear before me. As I learn more about this journey none of this is unusual. It is actually very common. People scatter….places that held happy memories become a wound that is often times too large to bandage. The very things that you thought you knew are now vague memories or are completely forgotten. 

Not too long ago I was explaining to a dear friend through tears that there is something in me….it almost feels like I’m expectant…edgy…watching but with this restlessness in me I want to see progress…I want to push. She said that it sounded similar to that of a mother birthing a child. There you have it. That is exactly how I’m feeling. It’s hard for me to rest..to practice pausing…waiting…to lean in. I’ve been listening to a lot of worship music since Evan’s death. Some of my favorites are Elevation Worship. The words are so powerful. I read an article about their song “There is a Cloud” and the meaning of the song. Such a great article I've included the link here. http://www.newreleasetoday.com/article.php?article_id=2112

One of the many verses they talk about is Hebrews 11:1. "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." I’ve included one of the verses of the song in this post. This is from Elevation Worship “There is a Cloud”.

On this Day....One year ago

Today November 9th, 2017 is the 365th day of not having you on the planet.  As I look back over the days leading up to this I'm amazed at how the Lord prepared me. Our community would spend days petitioning God for a miracle...to give you life but instead the miracle was that you would give life to others. That selfless act is so much a part of who you are and of the people that you associate with. I remember the hours and moments as they ticked away and we waited for them to come and take you to the operating room. They came to your room at 2:14am and I see so vividly all of us walking you to the door of the operating room and of us standing in a huddled clump, Dad, Alex and I.... with all of our friends watching us watching you. What I remember the most is the silence. Almost as if at that moment the world had forgotten it's voice. A silent cry. Not a sound was made. All I could hear were our tears. We asked Dr. Gaborko if he would go with you...as a prayer covering and a witness that you would be watched over. I can honestly say that knowing he was going in with you gave us peace.  Jeff's kindness to us was a selfless act and one we can never repay. The other thing I remember is looking back at all of the people who stayed till the end and seeing their faces. Such brokenness. So many tears. I shall not forget those moments...never ever. Letting you go was so, so hard. Even to write this brings great big tears.

Oh, how we miss you. The thing that is hardest is your voice. I can't hear it. Your ridiculous laughter is silent. Your words live on only to be read in a voice that is not yours. Most days we do what we have always done. We wake up, drink coffee, go to work, come home, eat, go to bed. Time has marched on and the seasons have changed and the world has not stopped. We have not stopped. I'm one year older, we still wonder about the holidays and what we will do, we still talk about life and truly most days I still feel your presence. Maybe it's the familiar things that make you seem close...my daily journeys to Peet's where I keep expecting you in the afternoon to come up behind me and say "Hey! Mom!"...maybe it's driving by Best Buy and thinking of all the time you spent there and the holidays you missed because of the craziness of the seasons...maybe it's the train at the Nut Tree that for years we spent EVERY WEEKEND during your train faze as a young child...maybe it's the sound of your friends at our house to commemorate a birthday or to just play a card game...or maybe it's what I see through my lens that brings me into close proximity to your presence...the more familiar the location the closer you are to me....I'm learning to look for the things that the Lord is showing me because that's where you are....with that said you're missed...every day by us. 

I know you would be proud of us for putting one foot in front of the other....for pressing forward. Looking back only to remember with fondness and a little bit of angst. Today we will celebrate you with the thing you loved most....A Poetry Slam! to honor you and to keep a bit of who you are alive in our hearts. To celebrate a life lived and loved well and one that gave the gift of life to others. 

 

The Middle

Last week at my Grief Share meeting the subject was "Why?" As you might guess that is the biggest question that people who are experiencing grief ask themselves. One of the many takeaways from this section of the study was that we are in "the middle of the story". That in the middle of the story God is after the "deeper things". Another point that I really loved was that we should live in the exclamation point, not in the question mark. I know your reading this and it all might sound trite but for those of us who are living with the questions these things help us to move towards healing and help us to lean into the things we don't understand to look for the deeper things.

I'm learning to allow the longing, the missing as some want so much for me to be ok. For the most part, I am OK. I'm sad and part of that sadness is that I want to talk about Evan. I want you to know him like I did. I want to remember the good, the bad and the often crazy/zany person he was and will always be. I'm learning that my response is true and that my journey is unique to me. I don't have to run to catch the next train so to speak. I'm learning the "pause" or the "middle" as I move in grief. I'm looking for the opportunities to see Jesus and what He is doing in the "middle". I want to see the beauty in the "pause". To capture the essence of what it allows me to learn about myself and about the journey I'm on. Evan so much love has come from this tragedy I very much hope that you knew how much you were loved by so many. It's crazy! As for me, we are solid. There aren't any questions about that with us. We spoke of it often our feelings and there's great comfort in that. Doesn't make the missing easier just makes it bearable. I'm so grateful for your words that you gave so freely to not only me but a host of others. How blessed we are to have that. 

So much about this seems hollow...hollow in that I never thought this would be our family journey. I often think about why did I never see you beyond the life that you lived. I never saw you married or with children. Maybe that was just the future that was not to be in my mind. I don't know and now it doesn't really matter cause that just makes it more painful to think of the loss of that dream for you or should I say my dreams for you. Instead, I look hopefully towards the future that God has for me...as I wait in the "middle" the "pause". 

Road Noise

As I continue down the road of grief I am struck by the things that take me from such great joy to weepy tears. I'm not even sure how to quantify it or give it a number on a scale. I spend a lot of time reading and listening to books. As I've shared in other posts I am listening to a book on Heaven and a book on waiting. Both of these areas in my life have been a struggle. Kinda like that kid that wants to be president at the place that they work even before they learn how to count back change at the register.  As I've said in previous blogs Heaven has always been abstract to me and because my faith points me to Jesus and the bible I don't really want to speculate about it. I want to know what the bible says as that is foundational...my center. On top of reading/listening to many books I am attending a faith-based small group on grief called Grief Share.  All these things keep me a float...keep me moving...processing. They keep me reaching out to grasp what is really not something you can grasp. So what it does is give me strength. It gives me Faith to look beyond what I can see and it gives me Hope that what I think and believe are Truth and that at some point it will bring peace and understanding. 

Roads are a funny thing. I've spent most of the summer on the road either on the east coast or west coast but always on the road. I went on a road trip this last weekend and we had times on this trip where the highway was smoothly paved. The road noise was minimal. You could hear the stereo in the car without having to crank it up and the skies were clear....smooth sailing so to speak. We then had places where the road was so rough from years of weather and chains from vehicles that you could not even hear yourself think. You couldn't hear the radio. You couldn't even have a conversation as the noise in the car was so loud and storms that nearly blinded you as you drove down country roads in the dark. Sometimes you turn down a road that you think is the right one and all of a sudden you are at a dead end. You make a plan that you are going to leave at a certain time. You stop just to get food and go to the bathroom no extra stops just to realize it took you about the same amount of time as it did when you enjoyed the journey. Stopped and looked at the sights. Made memories and took your time.

I share all of this because grief is very similar to the road trips I've been on and to be perfectly honest life is this way as well. It takes me to places I didn't want to go. Sometimes I enjoy where I'm going and the effects of it leave me refreshed and my burden is lightened. Sometimes the noise is so loud I can't hear what is being said to me and I zone out. Sometimes I just want to get home...to do it my way. I forget about all the beauty that is around me and if I had just stopped...walked around...and practiced pondering I would have gotten home in just the right amount of time and enjoyed the journey.

Evan, we love and miss you so very much. Every memory is bittersweet and filled with the what if's and why not's. As I travel this road I hope to have less of those questions but for now...It is September and that means that you have been gone 10 months....but really it is for eternity.    e·ter·ni·ty  əˈtərnədē/ ~  noun ~ infinite or unending time. 

http://www.visitcalifornia.com/attraction/sundial-bridge

https://www.amazon.com/Real-Heaven-What-Bible-Actually/dp/0801016134 

https://www.amazon.com/Wait-See-Finding-Peace-Pauses/dp/0781413559

http://albanycarousel.com

Watching a wedding through the eyes of our son.

The day after our 27th wedding anniversary in July we had the honor of helping with and celebrating a dear family friend wed his beloved. It was fun, it was emotional, and it felt like family. It started days earlier for me and several other friends as we helped to prepare for this event. I am always so impressed with when a call goes out for helping hands that the Lord always provides what is needed. From prepping flowers, to gathering ice for the beverages...everyone came together and it made for a happy and joyous day for our friends. 

We have known Brock for most of his life as he and my son Alex have been on the soccer field from the time they were in elementary school. So many great memories of days gone by shuffling Alex, Brock and a bunch of their buddies to soccer games and school functions. It was a great day for all who joined and we are grateful to have been included. 

One of the most precious moment...was watching Brock and his brothers. Brock is the youngest of three and their love for each other and their parents really is a testament to them as a family. I had the privilege to watch this wedding through the eyes of my son Alex. I know in some ways it was melancholy for him as he must wonder about his own wedding and what will that look like for him. I can't speak to what he was feeling or thinking but I pray that the memories and love that he and Evan shared will be enough to sustain him when he does walk through the many life events he will experience. That the love of our family will keep him upright and looking forward. That the friends and relationships that have been the cornerstone of our lives will be what give him courage and strength.

For now I'm grateful for the tribe that God has given us and I am thankful to have shared just a small part of the journey that Brock and Kiana will venture down. So much love coming your way...The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

 

We love you and Best Wishes!!

Solar Eclipse of 2017

Summer always brings a trip to see my folks in South Carolina. This year, as in years past, I went to our family reunion in Pennsylvania. I went this year without my parents and my Dad's absence was felt by all but especially by me. I was fortunate to have my dear friend go with me and we sang, and joked, and dodged massive thunderstorms. 

One of the highlights of my visit to see my mom this year was the fact that the Solar Eclipse of 2017 was passing through South Carolina and was less than an hour and half from my mom's house. So I had to choose whether I wanted to drive 10 hours and countless traffic jams to go to Oregon or drive an hour and half on the country road of South Carolina. So I extended my stay in South Carolina so that I could be a part of something that I will not be alive to see when it happens again.

I spent every available moment researching to find the right place to capture this event. When I went out the Saturday before the eclipse I found a little city along the path of totality. The city of Clinton is just southwest of Charlotte and was close to my brother's home. I didn't want to have to deal with all of the people going to the larger cities in the path of totality such as Greenville, Columbia or Charleston so this little town was the perfect fit. 

When I ventured out Monday the plan changed slightly cause I was trying to out run the clouds that threatened the skies. I started my way to Clinton but ended up in Whitmire which is right off of the highway just before Clinton. I set-up all my gear and just as I did that a large cloud came overhead and it began to drizzle. I decided I still had time (about 20 minutes) to move further southwest closer to Clinton proper. I headed down the highway and happened upon a little country church where I saw another group of folks watching and the skies were clear. I parked and set-up my gear and determined that this would be the spot for me as the eclipse was beginning. A few of the folks I met were on their way home to Vero Beach, Florida and they had stopped to watch. One of the parishioners of the church came by just to say Hi! The locals had heard that people had stopped by their church so they were curious about the people who had camped out in the parking lot. 

As I began to photograph this spectacular event just before totality began a crazy storm cloud approached and covered the sun. I was so disappointed as I thought I had missed the biggest part of the event. I kept shooting although through clouds I didn't want to miss anything. This was a difficult shooting opportunity for me as there was so many different elements and weather conditions to accommodate. Many of the shots aren't focused well as the clouds and changes cause camera shake. As I reviewed and edited the photos my thought was that I did capture some great moments and although not perfect I did my best and I know that my husband and my sons would be proud of what I accomplished. 

I hope that you enjoy these photos it was such a great adventure. Thanks Zachary and his family for sharing the day with me and to my brother Shawn who helped me scout out my location and to the people of South Carolina thanks for the hospitality.                                                           

.......The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.   Psalm 19:1

Thank you, Mom. I can't wait to see what you capture next....

Last year I was challenged to take my art out into the world. This challenge came in the form of a letter written from Evan but I had also many friend who told me I should try. So I did and it was successful. I placed in many of the shows I entered and won small monetary prizes for those placements. I'm glad that I did it and it helped me see a different side of photography....

I was unsure if this year I would be up to the task of placing my photography in the numerous shows that I had last year. Some of my motivation was that Evan and Alex really helped to move me forward and honestly putting your work in shows is time consuming. But I felt that I had a few piece that I could enter and my motivation was different this year so I entered a few shows along with entering the California State Fair. I've included those piece in this blog post.

Being an artist is unique and beautiful. It can also be demanding and test you in ways that you thought impossible. Sometimes I think that it was more then I bargained for this thing I do. I want to say that since the loss of Evan my world has changed...I can't really describe it but I feel the full impact of my loss every single day. I was out yesterday and nearly every place that I went or drove past had a memory of something or brought back to me a conversation I had with Evan. The other night I was out looking for picture frames for photos that I was placing in an art show I ran into some dear friends who asked, How are you??? Well at that moment I was deep in the process of trying to get frames and I was great but as I talked further I was grateful to get through a conversation about how I was without tears. Please don't take that the wrong way...for me that is a step forward in my healing. I want to be at a place that the very conversation about Evan does not destroy me.....crumble me to a "bucket of tear"so to speak...."grief ambush" as it's called in my small group study that I'm doing. I want to be able to have conversations that invite people towards me...to not be afraid to see people or have them avoid me or feel awkward. To be real grief is scary....and awkward...and crummy but it is also part of the process of loving and being loved. I'm grateful to have loved Evan and that he loved me too. There is so much joy in that...if I hadn't loved there would be no sadness or this grief that I have. Maybe that is what is different is the full impact of our love is felt in loss. Yes...I think that's what is different is that I know that if I love fully the full impact of the loss of that becomes very clear and painfully real. It goes back to something I believe the Lord is showing me.

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror.....1 Cor. 13:12. 

 

We Back the Blue.

Earlier in June we had the great honor to celebrate as a dear friend graduated from the police academy. His hard work and determination paid off as he walked across the stage and was presented his badge. It had been a long 6 months and one that was marked by great accomplishment but also great sadness. Christopher had been accepted into the program about the time our son, his dear friend, was in an auto accident that left him brain dead. It was a difficult time for all of us and yet in it a great thing emerged. Christoper started the program and 6 months later he is starting his job as a police officer. 

I'm grateful to be included in such a time of celebration and I look forward to the great things he will accomplish in the months and years ahead. Best Wishes, Christopher! We love you! 

Giving Comfort

The month of June has zipped by and I am finally able to stop and catch my breath. In the process of me catching my breath I have also found that the busyness has kept me from the full extent of my sadness. I've learned to navigate this part of my life as the spaces that I inhabit don't always allow me the opportunity to go there. I will hear a song, see a photo or just be reminiscing of moments I've experienced that bring me to the brick wall that is my grief. It stops me and as I'm shaking off the fact that I've run full force into it...it looks at me unshaken and with not a blemish that I have hit it and all the while I'm left beaten and battered trying desperately to get my balance and footing. Some times it is much more subtle...not as much of an assault but more sly...in the midst of great laughter and fun it sneaks in and crumbles me to a sentence I use often..."a bucket of tears". 

This month I've felt like I was being taking on a ride that I thought would be fun. It had all the makings of good times and loads of happy moments but for me, in this season I can't help but think of the missed moments I will not have. I know...bummer but this is my journey and it is at times very much a bummer. I miss seeing my son with a group of his friends as they celebrate a great accomplishment of one of their own. I reminisce about what his response would be....and think about just how happy he would be for this dear friend. I think often of those who miss him but are really not sure what to do or what to say and I wonder...What does a 20-something do with their grief? I think of some of the dearest people I know that as they look at me from across a room and wonder about this journey they are on with me as they can't fathom the depth of my sorrow but are walking with me. I think of the many near and far who reach out almost daily with texts, Facebook messages, hugs and love. 

As I sat in church today and listened to our pastor lead worship and preach from the psalms. The message from Psalm 142 as David is hiding out from those who would want to capture and destroy him. I was brought to tears thinking of not only my own heartache but that of my husband and son too. As I am weeping in church as his message and worship are striking a cord I receive this text from a dear friend of Evan's~"Hi my sweet Dawn. I am thinking of you now and missing Evan so much. Crying out to God (while literally crying haha) and I just take this moment to honor him and wanted to tell you he is on my heart so much and so are you. I know God is showing us something so big right now, I hope to grasp it soon so I won't be so sad. Love you so much". As I watched as my own pastor can't proceed with his message as he too thinks of the things that his sheep are going through and like any shepherd his heart is turned towards them. As I get a hug from a friend who knows me and knows my story her hug is so close I can hear the beat of her heart...to a sweet new friend who only knows me on social media but comes over and holds me...no word are necessary...as I weep. Then I think of the beautiful sunset last night among my sunflower fields that I believe are God's gift to me...cause those faces are just the best thing in all the world. I know that all of this and more are part of my journey. Part of the steps I walk in my healing. That the tears that I cry don't go unseen. That God because of His great love for us sends these, that are giving comfort, as only the God of the universe can do. 

Mother's Day for those who are bereaved.....

Today is International Bereaved Mother's Day https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-importance-of-international-bereaved-mothers-day-bbab/ 

As I think about Evan and the loss of him I can't help but think of all the other parents but especially Mom's who have lost a child. It is never easy..it continues to hurt...but we keep moving inch by inch..moment by moment. The immense love that we felt is only made harder but the immeasurable sadness we feel with our loss. 

Yesterday when I got home from work we had received a letter from the Donor Network. The folks who connect donor families to the people who have received their loved one's organs. In God's great mercy and because of His great love for us...this letter arrived this week. The great excitement that this recipient has experienced from receiving Evan's heart....that it has brought him back from the brink of death has made it is so very bittersweet for me. I'm so glad that he felt safe enough to contact us. That he has shared how his life has been immediately changed. How he is doing all that he can to live a health life and use the gift that he received to tell other to give the same gift. I can't help but be so overwhelmingly mournful of our great loss. 

With that said...We would not change the course that has taken place with Evan doing what was in his heart....and that was to be an organ donor. I'm proud of him and his very clear and direct decision to donate his organs. We continue to see God's hand in all of it and never once have thought this was not what Evan would have wanted. So as I close out this blog on this day that many are struggling to understand why and what can this all mean...let me encourage you. Hold your head up as well as you can...I know from experience it is not always easy...be present in the everyday...and if you can, think about giving the gift of life through being an organ donor. You could change the course of someones life. I know that it did for Lee.  https://www.donornetworkwest.org

Taking to the open roads of North Carolina....

On Friday I woke up and wanted to see something beautiful.  I'm rather partial to water features so I found out that there are lovely waterfalls less than 3 hours from Charlotte. So I took off with my camera, some snacks, and water to the Pisgah National Forest. It wasn't until I stopped at Starbuck's in Hendersonville, NC that I realized I forgot my wallet. Not only that but I had about a half of a tank of gas. UGH.... anyway, I kept going towards the mountains and arrived at the national forest. I stopped and looked at the map by the rangers station and made a plan to go look at a few of the falls that have made this region famous. The map and info provided below courtesy of Pisgah National Forest Ranger Station.

 

I made my way towards Looking Glass Falls, which is just inside the park. The great thing about it was that you can observe the falls from your car it’s that close. I ventured out of my car though and walked down to get a closer view. The roar of the water was so refreshing for a brisk nearly spring day. I thought a lot about my boys. I wish I could give you a quick thumbnail of my thoughts but there where too many. Mostly that I miss Evan….nothing new there. Mostly I feel for Alex and that adventures that could have been will not be with his brother. I thought of my extended family and that of my husband. As I drove along I thought of my husband also as I saw so many people fly-fishing along the waters edge. It was a beautiful day with water.…my thoughts….and creation.

This was taking from the roadway.

This was taking from the roadway.

During my brief adventure I also went to Looking Glass Rock that was not too far from the falls. When I stopped and got out to take a few photos in the distance I saw one of the native birds of this area a Peregrine Falcons. I’ve been having a few encounters with falcons lately and the beauty of that is it gives me a sense of connecting with Evan. It is as if the Lord allows it just to give me a sense of comfort. The Lord does this so often for me as I’m out in creation. It's worship really…I can hear Him. He lets me know that he’s near…that He sees my longing…that He know that my heart is searching…looking for my boy. I’ve done a little bit of studying about falcons but truly I’m not looking for anything supernatural….I’m just looking for the Lord to show me what He wants me to see and to find comfort in the connect He makes with me. My hope is that you see the beauty that I see and that you too can see Jesus in what I share.