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.