I was in a really good mood when this evening started.
The skies finally cleared up, a nice breeze after the rain was blowing.
The ground wasn’t too soaked.
That meant, I wouldn’t have to reschedule, the H family, AGAIN, due to weather.
I’d shot their three little ones before, but it was quick, during Easter.
I didn’t learn their names, or spend much time with them in the few minutes that they visited with the easter bunny, here at the farm.
I’ve seen them on Facebook though, of course.
Their date nights, their funny photos, the way one of them typically acted out in a family photo, on Sunday.
So I felt like I knew them, even though I didn’t.
Those ice blue eyes, obviously blew me away at first, but once they started talking, I couldn’t stop laughing.
“Spirited” as one lady once referred to my crew, was the perfect adjective to describe this group of girl.
We talked and talked, and talked some more.
Finally, we made it to the pasture, kicked our shoes off, and played a few games of ring around the Rosie, and even got to watch the geese swim by.
As we walked back, we came upon a huge mud hole.
I knew the girls were itching to walk through it, but I didn’t know if their mom would be on board, in those hand sewn, starch white dresses they were wearing.
She didn’t even attempt to stop them.
They loved it.
Holding their dresses up, like good southern girls do, they slowly walked back and forth through the muck the rain from earlier had left.
As a thank you, for doing so well, they got to pet the kittens, before heading off to their grandparents for ice cream.
I came inside to the AC and fell into the couch, before tackling the chaos that would be bedtime with three kids.
I pulled up Facebook, and saw that my newsfeed was flooded with RIPs and OMGs and SO SICK RIGHT NOW.
The title read “Body of Missing 12-Year Old Discovered”
It didn’t read, 12yo found safely, or 12yo returned home.
It read, that some fisherman, found the body, of a young girl, that’s been missing here in our town today.
It makes your heart sink.
It makes your stomach churn.
And if you’re a mom, it only gets worse from there.
Just like those beautiful girls I spent the evening with, I’d seen Naomi Jone’s pictures plastered all over Facebook these past few days.
This morning while grabbing coffee, the young college students were discussing their search efforts yesterday, and what they’d be doing today.
I still remember hearing her mom asking whoever had her, to return her, on the. news a few days back.
Admittedly, I wanted to forget it.
I couldn’t let my mind go there.
If that had been my child.
If that had been my friend’s child.
I didn’t know these people, not those people on the news.
But seeing that photo on Facebook, over and over and over again.
You start to know her.
Enough about them.
All of them.
The people we want to know more of, and even the ones we don’t.
Photography does that.
I imagined, somewhere, Naomi’s family is probably looking at photos.
Good ones, bad ones, ones she loved, and ones she hated.
But they’ll love them all, now.
Way more than they did a week ago.
The thing about life, is it’s never guaranteed.
None of it.
As you grow older, you start to learn, how little control, you have, over any of it.
Photography, is the biggest outlet for me.
And I’ll be honest, and say that in reviewing these images, I cried.
Hoping that no one I knew, or loved, ever had to feel the pain, of losing a child.
Glancing back at photos, to remember as much as they could.
I also know, I’m not the only mom, who decided to not yell a her kids to go to sleep.
Who decided instead to play not one, but three rounds of UNO after the baby was asleep with the big kids.
To read post, after post, about this young girl, whose life was taken, far too soon, scared of any further details. . .
Details that may lead to the realization that we all, already know.
This could have been any of us.
This could, be any of us.
Perspective plays a large role in how I shoot.
& what I shoot.
Smiling photos are lovely.
Straight horizons, and ironed dresses and perfect crops make for excellent mantle decor.
But I love life.
I love kids who are big enough to walk, being carried by parents who don’t mind the weight of those babies wrapped around their waists, a little longer.
I love dads who carry girls over tiny holes, not big enough to fall into, but big enough they’d rather not chance a scrape.
I love kids, who are kids.
Kids who talk to much, and ask too many questions.
Kid’s who laugh, at themselves, and their parents.
I love girls who like being barefooted, and feeling the mud underneath their perfectly polished toes.
I love moms, who let their kids, play in the mud, in fancy white dresses.
I love sad faces, and serious faces.
I love the way a collection of photos, can capture exactly what your life looks life.
In it’s best light.
Tonight, I’m deeply troubled.
For the family that only has photos left.
For a life, a young girl. . .that won’t get to see, success, marriage, children, old age, wealth or fame.
I don’t know why it happens.
Only that it does.
Tonight, as I looked through these photos.
I’m thankful, for the opportunity to give these, to someone else.
Thankful, for the successes I’ve seen, the marriage I have, the children I have, the health I have.
Knowing, that it could all be taken, at any given time.
With so many others,
hugging those I love most, even closer tonight.
Dearest H family,
thanks for sharing
so much, of your beautiful life > > >
with me <3 <3