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.

9 years later...Vacaville Christian High School, Class of 2018

Thursday was the graduation ceremony for the Vacaville Christian High school Class of 2018. I was invited to come by several of the families and I had hoped to take a few shots of the seniors that I had done their portraits. I walked onto the field and headed towards where the seniors were gathering with advisers and administrators in preparation of them walking towards the stadium. I wish I could say that my steps were light and sure…as they were not. I felt an overwhelming sense of disconnection. I felt at odds with my heart and head so after hanging out for a bit longer I left the ceremony with my head winning over my heart. I often have this happen to me. It’s a struggle to let the mind win cause typically the most important people you care about lose. I wish I can say that I’ve mastered “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” but alas I have not.  After countless texts to a friend who had their own struggle, I decided to return and do what I had set out to do. 

This time of year always bringing about feelings of melancholy and nostalgia it also holds great excitement, anticipation, and joy. Most times I have to do a great deal of talking myself through these things as they will continue to be a part of living and loving people. I want to so much to be included and sometimes I don’t always sense that connection. I feel at arm's length from it and maybe that is just the season I’m passing through. 

Congratulations to all of the Class of 2018!! Thank you for allowing me to photograph this chapter of your story. 

I’ve included a few photos from Evan’s graduation in 2009 at VCHS. He was the second graduating class from the new high school.

Snapshots and Memories.....

Today as I do every day I'm always looking...watching to see what the Lord has for me. Sometimes it's something very small. Sometimes it's more of a feeling or a calm that comes to me in the midst of a crazy day filled with busyness. The thing that I find so comforting is that there is always something. This last weekend has been filled with running. Graduations, proms, parades, celebrations and BBQ's. As I've moved through all of these "life" events I was amazed at how often you came to mind, Evan. It was as if you traveled with me to all of these events. If you had been here I know you probably would have had your own things that you would have done. You wouldn't have gone to all of the same things I did but the great thing about now is that you're ever present with me. Even in places that you wouldn't normally be. As I stepped on to the field to watch the graduation of a dear friend from Vacaville Christian Schools; I couldn't help but sense....the senior sunrise and all of the other things that I was so privileged as your mom to experience with you. How lucky I am that I was available to be in those moment with you and Alex. So thankful for your Dad who has always allowed me such freedom to be fully engaged with you guys as you were growing up. To walk along the pathway were your name is forever placed with your class. It was a bundle of emotions and tears but Jesus met me and carried me. He placed me in the path of those who knew you and had fond memories of you. It was a great comfort.

From there to kick off the Memorial Day holiday with the Fiesta Day Parade.....again not someplace you would have hung out with me but I saw and connected with so many people and in those moments of connection and friendship I saw you there. I can remember so many parades you would have been marching for band at VCS and I would walk along with the group screaming and yelling. Such great memories....I treasure them...holding them so tightly. I went from the parade to Prom to photograph some of the seniors as they embarked on their last formal gathering before graduation. It was filled with silly traditions and beautiful guys and gals and it brought about such feelings of nostalgia for me that I thought my breath would catch. So many great memories I have from your high school season....limo rides....gathering of friends...laughter that was heard through out. It was rather melancholy. I was glad that Dad took me out for dinner at Mikunis so I didn't spend too much time in my head. 

One thing that is always certain with you and Alex is that when it comes to family you always are present. This weekend was no different. On Sunday we celebrated your cousin's graduation from high school. Interestingly when I looked up to see people arriving I thought for a split second that I saw you....same hair color...same facial hair...even a shirt the same color as you had but to my great disappointment it was not you. It caught me for a moment and in the hope that others not deem me crazy....it was only my mind taking me to places that it often does only to slam me back to the world in which I am here and you are not. I like for just that brief time to believe....to be in that moment of thinking maybe....... After we got home I went out driving as that is always when I find the most beautiful things...just before sunrise or sunset. Earlier this month Alex took me out to see the sunflowers and although they hadn't bloomed they had sprouted. I was checking on them to see their progress. Just a few more weeks and they will be ready.

Monday was a day of remembering...Memorial Day. We went to see grandpa at the cemetery and I can't help that when I go see him that a piece of you is also with him. The services at the cemetery were lovely...moving...honoring and I'm grateful for all who gave their lives for our freedom. So many emotions as I thought of my dad and really thought a lot about you. I think of so many similarities between you and my dad. As I come to the end of this month I am really filled with a lot of emotion. I've cried so many tears and I don't really see an end to that anytime soon. I keep them in check more...the world is not ready for all this emotion...when tears are tied to sadness and grief there isn't much room for that in this world.  So for now I will continue to be looking...watching....and waiting for the God of comfort to give me purpose in my pain.