The summer of 2012, I scheduled our photographer Stacy Hart, to take pictures of our family of 5, for that October. I knew I wanted fall pictures for our annual Christmas card and I wanted to get on her schedule early. I’d searched Pinterest and created a board for lots of cute pictures, poses, and styles to gain ideas for the perfect picture. To be honest, I’d been planning that photo session for years even before having Kaylee. It was the family photo session I had waited years for. A session for a family of 5 that never happened. And a Christmas card that was never sent.
In October 2012, Stacy still came to town as planned, as she had generously offered to host a mini-session fundraiser to support our playground mission at Mechanicsville Elementary. We did have Stacy take pictures of Drew and Kaylee that day but we couldn’t bring ourselves to take a family picture at that session. A family picture without Nate, to stand together with 2 children and not 3, was just unbearable and cruel to the heart.
I know the emotional value of a picture all to well. And although, most of the time, looking at pictures of Nate is still so painful, I am so thankful that I have them. I have professional pictures but I also have thousands of photos taken at home and around the house. Each picture is so special to me. So, as hard as it is to take a picture sometimes I still snap each and every one because I don’t want to forget a moment. In January 2013, we celebrated Kaylee’s 2nd birthday. We did manage an impromptu family picture after she blew out birthday candles. In July, 2013 we found courage to stand for a scenic picture while hiking in Tennessee. While vacationing in the Outer Banks in August, in the quiet with my sister in law, we again managed a quick family picture. To date, I haven’t shared family pictures. It’s hard to look at our pictures as I see, us as a family, a year later. I can’t put into words what it feels like to see a picture without Nate. There’s an empty space that should be filled. I have to admit even when I take a picture of Drew and Kaylee together my heart skips a beat and my finger struggles to snap the shot. It happens every single time. My mind knows I need the pictures. My heart wants Nate there too. When I look at picture, I can usually spot right away where Nate would be in the picture. I can picture him there with us. His arm wrapped around Kaylee, standing tall beside Drew, or hugging Justin and I around the neck, as he pops up from the background.
In October, when Stacy was in town, for the 2nd Annual NCB fundraiser, she convinced us last minute to take a family picture. It was getting dark, we hadn’t matched perfect outfits, and we didn’t have the perfect pose. But what Stacy captured that Saturday evening will forever be held dear in my heart. She captured a family that sticks together and loves. A family that has dedicated themselves to let their lights shine, to love deeply, to seek joy, to keep pressing forward in life, and to live for Him. A family that continues to be refined. A family that hurts deeply but also finds hope in each day. A family that still feels blessed in many ways. A family that said we would Be Great For Nate and is living out that promise.
So this year, I still can’t send a Christmas card. Some day I will but not yet.
But I will share our Christmas wishes, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Thank you all for all of your love, support, friendships, and prayers in 2013.