Thursday, November 19, 2009

Faded Photographs

Tonight was my final GriefShare class, and we had a little extra homework: we were to bring a picture of our late loved ones to class. I pondered which one I should take for a long time. I have a little portrait gallery going on the side of the sink where D's shaving supplies used to reside, so I have a lot to pick from.

I decided to get up early this morning to choose my shot. As one who had always sprung from the bed before the alarm clock sounded, my new and not-improved later bedtime causes me to hear the annoying beeping go off at times. That is one angry little machine, isn't it? My sympathy to you who have had to listen to that droning sound for lo, those many years.

Anyhoo, I narrowed my choices down to a few:

The shot of us on our honeymoon in Hawaii. We are standing under a banyon tree and looking like the two happiest people on earth. Because we were. Those were ten of the most wonderful days of my life, and we actually discussed staying there and sending for the kids.

One picture from our annual New Year's Eve celebration at San Francisco Steakhouse. That particular year, the two older girls were at a lock-in with the youth group at church. The two younger kids went with us in their fanciest duds. And ordered hot dogs.  Everyone is wearing big grins above their satisfied tummies. (Another loss? That restaurant is now a Chinese Buffet. That is just wrong on so many levels..)

The Facebook-style photograph we took of ourselves at H's graduation from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. We were thrilled about this first college graduation among the kids and glad to be doing the tourist thing in D.C. (Except that the Smithsonian, featuring Kermit the Frog and Dorothy's ruby red slippers, was closed for repairs.)

But my final choice? The portrait from daughter K's wedding. Due to complication of the cancer, D had his leg amputated six weeks before the ceremony. We had hoped that we could put the surgery off so that he could walk her down the aisle. That didn't happen, so he met her at the front with his walker to lead the family in prayer. Not a dry eye in the house. He was a brave man, and his eyes were shining with joy in the picture. It is my very favorite one of the two of us together. I've thanked the photographer many times for what those shots have meant to me. Her profession seems like a ministry  as she preserves memories through her work.

I discovered one interesting thing while going through the stack of pictures today. Where I had spent an inordinate amount of time remembering D's death in the past four months, I realized that I had started to think of the happy memories of our time together. Surely that is proof of progress in this journey.

We shared our pictures with each other in grief class tonight, and told what our loved ones meant to us. It was a very warm and  uplifting time. We've walked  many  miles together since we began this class 14 weeks ago. A lot of tears have fallen into countless boxes of Kleenexes. But a lot of smiles have begun emerging.

I think I will probably  "re-up" for the next class session, which begins in early January. I'm sure I'll hear things differently as the fog continues to lift. 

Trying to count it all joy, and believe that all I am learning from this experience will help someone else down the road. And glad for pictures that captured tangible memories of a precious one that I don't want to forget.


Craig Weeks said...

I'm pretty sure the picture you chose is one we have in our screen saver rotation at home. When I started reading I wondered if you would choose the one where Dave is standing, post amputation, on the driveway in front of the garage working on some project. That's in our rotation, too.

Dawn said...

Your posts like this never fail to make me thankful for what I have. I am so glad you are able to smile over your many memories of D.

How about meeting for coffee sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Anonymous said...

Whoa! the post shows you are seeing parts of a day you did not know existed! the alarm clock is ugly when you see anything past 10:30!!!
The memories are precious to be treasured! Your life is rich with love and memories, thank you for sharing this journey with us! I know the fog will continue to lift but you seem to be walking through it well!

Shellie said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I didn't know about it until I clicked on the link to this blog from your Facebook page. You are handling this with such grace and aplomb,like so many other things I have seen in your life. This blog is really wonderful and I have been so blessed by reading it. You have a gift and I am glad you are sharing it with us. Andy & I will continue to pray for you and your family and we would love to see you sometime.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

Just sending you a hug from Tennessee....may your Thanksgiving be restful.