Sunflowers among the weeds...International Bereaved Mother's Day 05/05/19

Sunday, May 5th is International Bereaved Mother’s Day. I’ve done blog posts in the past, and after spending some time editing sunflowers that I happened upon here locally, I saw an opportunity to share in part what I saw while photographing these beauties.

Sunflower season here in Solano and Yolo Counties will be sometime in June, and yet I was able to find a few springing up in a field where they were last year. Sunflowers are one of my favorite flowers. I’ve added a few fun facts about them just to give you an understanding of how amazing they are. Sunflowers are used to demonstrate a mathematical term called a Fibonacci sequence. You can also see this sequence in artichokes and cauliflowers. While reading about this sequence in sunflowers researchers have found that the patterns can be inconsistent in sunflowers and quoting the article “real life is messy.” This is a truth that is lived out daily in the life of a bereaved parent and when speaking about loss and grief. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/05/sunflowers-show-complex-fibonacci-sequences It is the only flower to have the word “flower” in its name. Sunflower removes toxins and is a natural decontaminator of soil. They have been used to clean up dirt at some of the biggest environments disasters, including Chernobyl and Fukushima. Sunflowers are native to the Americas. Some of these facts come from this article. https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-sunflowers-3972329 As you might now see sunflowers have a medicinal quality to them. They have been used to heal and remove toxins from soil. As I photographed these beautiful flowers, I was struck by the fact that even though they were growing among weeds, they thrived. I saw a few bees although they seemed to be moving slowly and possibly dying. So much about these flowers lead me to see myself and other bereaved mothers the same way.

These flowers were strong. Even though the weeds had dropped some of the seeds to strike down these flowers they still stood firm...strong almost like flower sentinels. They’re looking for the sun and following its course across the sky. They are beautiful. Some of their petals hidden from the sun but just as yellow and brilliant as the noonday sun. Some of these beauties had yet to open, and many of them winking so to speak as only a few of their petals had started to open.

This blog goes out to all of you who mourn the loss of your child/ren. You inspire me. Even amid your loss, you continue to move towards health. You still remind me that you are bright sunflower standing firm in your memories of your child/ren. You are learning that your loss has defined for you those things that are toxic and you move towards removing them from your path. Some of you are still trying to figure out what you need and yet, you persevere opening up just a few of your petals as you follow your path. The loss of your child will continue to shape each move you make. It will define who you are and why you do what you do. I pray that you continue to remain strong and resilient. Standing tall like a sunflower.

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

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.


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.

An April Wedding...Becoming the Botkins.

In about two weeks some dear friends of ours and the best friend of our son Evan will be getting married.  This has been something we have waited for a very long time and the wait is almost over. We believe it will be the wedding of the year and we are excited to celebrate with you both.

I know that if Evan were here this would be the party he would be right in the middle of...I know he would've had great words to speak and you would be able to hear his voice singing loudest of all. So although it is bittersweet I know that Evan's presence and spirit will be with his dear friends as they say, "I Do". 

In preparation for this great day, I wanted to share a few snapshots from Brinton's shower that I've not shared. 

Enjoy!! and we'll see you in April!

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 

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. 

 

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

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. 

 

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. 

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

Moments in the busyness....Capture 2017

In the busyness of the last couple weeks I was trying to keep my head figuratively and literally above the water line. I saw so many rainbows but on some of the days life seemed to move along with out me even knowing that my life has changed. Last week I spent most of my days busy either at work or just going. I've found the more I go and do the less I stop and feel. In the stopping and feeling moments the weight of my loss is so acute that I can't breath. I want my old life back....with all of its flaws and imperfection because in that it seemed that the pain was far less.....the empty parts of my heart are filled and I don't feel so empty...so utterly and completely empty. I often wonder if I would have maybe not wasted my time on insignificant things....would I have looked more deeply....loved more largely....held on more tightly. 

Of course I know the answers to all of those doubts.....the grip that sometimes wants to suffocate the life that I want to live....the today that I am living. When I start to think about my today I begin to breath just a bit more. I see that the sun comes out...that although the loss is great the sun does shine even through the rain and fog. The loss....the sadness....the empty parts seem to find rest. I'm always so surprised how the sadness creeps in but never surprised to hear the Lord bring words of comfort to me. Doesn't change my situation it just gives me the strength to take one more step forward. I seriously don't know how you are suppose to live after such loss but for this moment and of the moments in between...I look expectantly to Him and the beauty that He has created for us. Check out the shot of the hummingbird with his tongue out...amazing.

For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!                                                            2 Cor 4:17 NLT

God is in the every day.....be present.

I have been out sorts since about the third of November. As I look back over the last 45 days I'm trying hard to remember some of the everyday things that I stopped and photographed. On the 4th of November 2016 my life and the life of my family was changed forever. At 3:22am we were woken up to the sound of brisk knocking at our front door. When I looked through the shutters I saw two officers and realized that this could not be good news. Unfortunately it was not.....they told me that Evan had been in an accident and they needed us to come to Kaiser hospital. I woke up my husband and my son and we made our way to the hospital. I honestly don't remember much but some of the things I do remember is waiting what seemed like a life time before we saw Evan. I remember the strength with a bit of apprehension that my husband and my son displayed that day and through out our time in the hospital....and I remember how quiet it was...on the drive over...in the waiting room as we waited to see Evan. It was almost as if the Lord was putting a blanket over us....a tangible protection so to speak....so that we did not get to far ahead of ourselves. Anybody that knows me knows that (in my mind) I can go to places no one has gone before but on this day I was under the protection of the Lord who knows and sees all that is going on and I had great Hope about what was before us. Now....does that mean I was not scared...no I was totally scared. Was I not worried...OF COURSE I was worried but what I'm saying is even in the midst of being scared and worried....there was calm....quiet....a presence that only God can bring....from the moment I was woken up by the knock at the door and that has remained with me even now. 

The following moments...hours...days...weeks and now one month from Evan's passing have been a blur. So much love has been poured out on us from all over the planet. We have gotten over 300+ cards, along with emails, Facebook messages, meals, flowers...lots of flowers, more meals, hugs, words of encouragement and the list is endless as to the gifts and love that have poured our way. Really to say thank you seems so small for what has been given to us. I don't want to give this illusion that everyday has been rainbows and unicorns. It is not...I have lived in this community for over 27 years and there isn't one place that doesn't remind me of Evan....I cry frequently in public and in private.....but in that I also feel that presence that came to me that first moment when the knocking came at the front door. I hope in weeks to come to chat more about this journey as I've tried to express some of the things I believe the Lord has placed on my heart regarding loss, relationships, investing in people, and walking out our faith in the midst of great loss and tragedy. I hope to take what God shows me through the every day and move it out so that we can pondering together the beauty that surrounds us. I also want to take some of my son's writings and pair them with my photography to create a beautiful blending of two creatives using what has be placed in us to shine a light and send a smile.

To all of you who have walked with us....We love you. You're our tribe and you will never know what a blessing you have been to us. To those of you who know Evan I ask you to not forget. You carry a small piece of him with you and whether he would admit it or not that piece...that love...was Jesus. Love Well...Care often....Don't be afraid to be a zookeeper.