Captured Memories

As a photographer, I love to capture memories. Snapping the shutter and instantly memorializing special moments we will never see again…it’s my passion, held deep within my heart and soul. My own son is a huge part of what opened my eyes to this passion. I think I must have taken at least 500 pictures of him within his first two weeks of life!

I bet you think I have all of these family photos perfectly displayed and archived in adorable albums neatly lined on shelves in my living room. That’s what photographers do, right? Maybe others, but not this one! My son is nearly two years old and I haven’t completed his baby book, much less started any photo albums. And up until about two weeks ago, I hadn’t even organized the multitude of his photos on my computer, not to mention printing them. Bad mommy!

Now, I do have a few photographs displayed in frames that I had printed around the holidays. I’m not completely behind… Just mostly. So, I sat down a few weeks back and, armed with a 1/2 off coupon code and coffee-created determination, resolved to go through 21 months of photos, select the favorites/best, upload them all to my printing lab, and finally get my butt in gear on creating photo albums for my son. I knew it would be hard, considering I hadn’t looked at many of these photos since before my husband died. But I wasn’t truly prepared for how painful it would be.

By the time all 353 photos were uploaded (how did I manage to cut literally thousands of pictures down to the 353 best?!) and the transaction was complete, I was a blubbering mess. I had forgotten so many details of the last few years of my life, our life. Widow-brain has taken away so many little memories, things I wish I could feel and see and touch and hear again. Like the way it felt to hold my son for the first time, and to see my husband look down at the son in his arms and be instantly changed. The way it smelled to cradle a breastmilk-drunk newborn close and kiss his sweet head. The way it sounded to hear my husband taking a shower in the morning and banging around upstairs getting ready for work, or to hear him playing his acoustic guitar quietly in the corner of the darkened nursery as I rocked our son to sleep on the night before he flew away for deployment. The way his kiss felt, the way his hair smelled, the way he looked at me. Us. I had forgotten so many details of us.

This whole experience was such a big milestone for me, a personal hurdle I wasn’t sure I could achieve. And honestly, I wasn’t even really aware that I needed to achieve it, but I did. I needed this and I am so glad I finally had the strength to begin the monumental task of sorting through our pictures and archiving our memories. It hurt, but it hurt so good. And I’ve come away from this experience even more passionate about capturing these important moments for others.

Make it your mission today — get your camera, and snap away. Document the little details, the small curl of your child’s hair, your family’s shadow in the parking lot, the way your hands curl around those of your loved one. Don’t let these things pass you by, and don’t let them sit in the folders of your computer, untouched. Print them out, put them in albums, and share them. Look at them. Talk about them. This is what life is made of.

Now if only I could get the pictures actually put *in* the album. They are still sitting on my kitchen counter where I put them when they arrived in the mail, amid the pile of random junk that I can never keep away. Seriously; two Megablocks, a rubber band, Flintstones vitamins, a key to an unknown lock, scissors, an old cookie my son found somewhere and brought to me, crumpled receipts, and a Mr. Potato Head arm. *shakes head*

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