Capturing Our Family Again, Including Caleb
This was a big opportunity to show my girls that when I say they are worth it, I mean it. Our most recent family photos were taken in 2018 and we typically have them done every 1-2 years. When we planned our first family vacation since Caleb’s death, I went ahead and planned for family photos to be taken as well. It felt easier to do 2 big “firsts” together at the same time than to keep dragging them out any longer. We couldn’t have chosen a better backdrop than the beautiful Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Doing normal family things like this is so incredibly sad and painful without Caleb, but it’s so incredibly important for my living daughters. To include Caleb, we each either wore something of his, or something to represent him. It is a unwelcome reality realizing that I will always have to wrestle with, and find balance in, the painful and the important things. Acknowledging the fact that my daughters are still in their childhood and they deserve a happy one just like Caleb had for 17 years, helps me step out and do the hard things for them. They lost more than I’ll ever know that tragic evening of August 12, 2019. Their brother, hero and best friend died by his own hand with no warning and no explanation. They had to watch their parents say good-bye and bury their only son. They’ve had front row seats to the most horrific and painful journey a family could ever walk through. They witness their mom and dad grieve, mourn and attempt to put their lives back together again each and every day. I have to often remind myself that I cannot lose what I have, to what I have lost.
This family session was actually so much fun! From the moment that I emailed Laura Walter with Laura Walter Photography, she was incredibly supportive and sensitive to our situation. She captured the girls’ personalities perfectly and helped us include and honor Caleb with such a gentle and caring spirit about her. She was honored to do this session for us and says our story impacted her life forever and said that she will never forget us. If you’re ever in or near The Outer Banks, NC and surrounding areas, you will not regret hiring Laura Walter to capture your family in photos.
I don’t think the photographer did these with this thought in mind, but it’s what spoke to me when I first saw them. We are standing hand-in-hand in the shadows, then walking towards the light, then we’re in between the shadows and the sunlight and finally we’re in the light. It’s a visual representation of the journey of surviving a suicide that we have been on. I may have explained it to sound like it’s a linear journey, but it is definitely not. Think of a 3 year old scribbling and that’s what this journey looks like. I can go from standing in the light to the darkness in seconds. I have learned how to get out of the darkness quicker and stay in the light longer.
Caleb’s hand is not in ours this time and it hurts beyond explaining, but he is represented, remembered and honored in every single smile, giggle, hug and kiss. I promised to honor Caleb by healing, taking family photos again was a big step in the right direction.
Caleb is with us always, In the sunrise, the sunset and everything in between. We miss him, we want him back and we want our “normal” again. In an effort to live well while we wait to see him again, we look another painful giant in the face and smile…4 faces, 5 hearts.