Not long ago I overheard two of my older children talking about my blog. When I started this blog…the kids were all little. And my whole purpose was to have a place where I could share my everyday pictures and stories so that they could read them some day. I had dreams of making this blog into a book for them…a recorded memory book of their childhood. I pictured them sitting together as adults in one of their living rooms…flipping through it…reading it out loud…laughing…crying…remembering. Everything from big stories of dreams coming true to little stories about “yes” walks were meticulously documented. Photography became more than a hobby for me. It became a way to illustrate our story. I had no idea that I wouldn’t have to wait to turn it into a book. I didn’t account for them wanting to read the stories and look at the pictures before they were grown.
When I walked into the room where they were talking about it…Chase looked at me and said, “Mom? Why don’t you blog any more?” And Aiden added, “I know! I love reading your blog.”
And my answer isn’t an easy one to admit.
Somewhere in the middle of losing 3 babies…I decided I didn’t want to tell our story anymore. I didn’t want to tell it because I didn’t want it to be mine.
Plus the fact that we didn’t tell the kids that I was pregnant this time last year. So…I couldn’t really be that transparent anymore. And that was one of the hardest things about it. After losing our 3rd baby in a row last January…I quit telling our story. I quit taking pictures with my good camera. The iPhone took over. Quick little Instagram posts easily linked to Facebook. There it was. There wasn’t even enough space…so a few words and a bad picture would suffice. So…the pressure was off. But deep down…I missed it. I missed photographing beautiful people and things. And I missed telling our story. I missed telling my story. Emotions, images and memories from the last several years are buried deep inside my heart somewhere…and the nagging thought that some of them will never make it onto paper haunts me sometimes.
Truthfully…I’ve dreaded this December all year long. I have dreaded getting out our Christmas tree ornaments and decorating the tree because wrapped safely and securely in that box is an ornament that Chad and I got last year when only we knew I was pregnant. It’s a tiny pair of baby snow boots. All year I thought about how I didn’t know which tissue paper wrapped ornament it was in the box saved for all the “special” ornaments and how at some point…it would be the one that I gingerly unwrapped. I knew there would be no way to avoid it. And I knew it would all but stop my heart when those baby boots peeked out of the tissue paper I had carefully wrapped them in last year. But as it turns out…the month itself is reminder enough. I spent a lot of time last year thinking about what things would be like this Christmas. I would have all the “Baby’s first Christmas” outfits. I would definitely take one of those darling pictures of him or her curled up…sleeping peacefully…with nothing but one of those long, knitted stocking hats on. I thought about how special Christmas would be with a new baby…so longed for and wanted. I hoped to get a picture of Honey holding the baby…the family bookends…in front of the Christmas tree.
My tree still isn’t decorated. And I honestly don’t know if I can do it. The box of ornaments are in the living room…like a permanent decoration itself. But…every time I think about pulling them out…I find some reason why it’s not a good time. Aiden’s extremely crazy school cheer/competition cheer/basketball schedule is a common excuse. She’s not home. So we can’t do it.
Looking at this tree…bare…with only white lights, some pinecones, red berries, and cardinals makes me happy. I think deep down I knew this was how it would stay. I think it’s why I begged and begged Chad to let us get a flocked tree this year…even though they are more expensive. He said no at first. But I think he knew that there was some reason I needed it that he didn’t understand and to just make peace with the tree being $50 more than usual. Someone told me once that when you see a bright, red cardinal against the pure, white snow…it’s God way of reminding you of one of your loved one’s who are in His Kingdom with Him. Since then…they have been my favorite bird. I have cardinals on snow covered branches all over my living room right now.
I’m slowly coming to terms with my story. It’s taking me longer than I would have liked. But every day, new sentences are written. Week by week…paragraphs turn into chapters. And even though sadness will always be the central theme in some of the chapters of our story…it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be written.
My 3 oldest children know about their sibling that they lost in January now…and they know about the other 2 before that. They know it’s a part of their story too. And they understand that those sad chapters in their story isn’t the way the book will end. And everyday…these 5 children continue to put the most beautifully colored ink to the softest grained paper…writing sentences that turn into paragraphs and chapters in front of my eyes. All I have to do is capture them.
It dawns on me looking at these images…
The iPhone and Instagram recordings aren’t letting enough light in.
It may be time to dust off my good camera…and let the light back in.
Dark pictures never show how beautiful the illustrations really are. And my kids are reading this book. They aren’t waiting for it to be leather bound. And the social media cliff notes just aren’t good enough anymore. They deserve more.
And…there are all kinds of ways to decorate a Christmas tree.