Pieces of Him

We had family pictures taken yesterday.

This is only the second time in the eight years since he’s been gone we’ve done so, at least professionally. Though his absence is always with us, on occasions like this the longing to have him here is even greater.

For our first photo session, the pain was still very raw and fresh.   Austin had only been gone a little over two years at that point. My husband was the most hesitant to have them made, but he went, out of devotion to me if nothing else. The fact that my cousin was the photographer helped ease our worries of breaking down in the middle of a pose.

I remember that we were all unsteady and awkward in the beginning – unsure of where to stand, what to do. Our youngest, Noah, and my husband soon began rough-housing and precious snapshots were taken. But our planned pose was in the back of all our minds. And, if you look closely, beyond the smiles, you see glimpses of the pushed away pain from our eyes.

After losing Austin, we had a blanket made from his favorite t-shirts. Woven together, it is a tapestry of him and all the things he loved. Baseball tees, vacation mementos, fire department shirts he proudly wore, and more.  These were clothes in his hamper, not his closet, because they were his daily attire.  The blanket now hangs over the back of our couch.  Soft and comforting, pieces of him that are always near, when we need to be hugged with memories.

We brought it with us for that first photo, as a way to remember and include him.  Purposefully leaving it for last, those final captures of our smiles quietly ended in tears, as the camera was put away. A milestone moment of moving forward on this child loss journey nobody wants to walk.

The photos hang on opposite sides of our great room, where we spend most of our time. Thinking about our youngest and how much he’s changing, growing, evolving, I realized we were past due for a new set. Noah was only eleven in those pictures, still very much a boy. As he’ll be a high school graduate next year, he now stands before us nearly a man.

Folding Austin’s blanket in preparation for our photo session, I sent a quick message to the photographer so she could be prepared. Sadly, she has also lost a child, so I knew she would give the moment the respect and honor it needed.  And that she did.  How gingerly she laid it across the hay, taking great care that it didn’t touch the dirt.
This time, we took photos with pieces of him first. And this time, there was laughter among the smiles.

[media-credit name=”Amanda Lindsey, CuppyCake Photography” link=”https://www.facebook.com/cuppycakephotography/?fref=ts” align=”alignnone” width=”549″]family-pic2[/media-credit]

 

Time has a way of healing us, even though it may seem impossible when loss is fresh and new. Though we all felt the loss, we also felt his presence. I know Austin was smiling down, as love and joy surrounded the photo shoot. The assistant even misspoke once, while positioning us, and said, “the four of you.” She brushed it off but I like to think his presence was so strong even she could feel him there.

My favorite photo of the day was unplanned and not posed.  She simply caught us in the midst of happiness.  And it is one I will forever treasure.  Because it wasn’t long ago I wondered if days like these would ever come again.

[media-credit name=”Amanda Lindsey, CuppyCake Photography” align=”alignnone” width=”519″]family-pic[/media-credit]

 

What ways have you remembered your child in family photos or other special moments?


Print Friendly, PDF & Email



  • Comment through Facebook

    comments

    Heather Blair

    Heather Blair

    In 2008, my world as I knew it changed forever, with the sudden loss of our 14 year old son, Austin. The journey to my blog (and attitude toward life) was bumpy and tearful, beginning at a memorial blog for my son. I later chose to take another path, challenging myself to find the JOY in every day, despite the sadness I still felt. I love and miss him daily but I'm living my life to honor him - and celebrating every moment it brings. My goal...to find and share the joy in every day. You can find me at Joyful Challenge

    October 17, 2016

    RELATED POSTS

    6 Comments

    1. Reply

      Cathy L Seehuetter

      October 18, 2016

      THis is very well done. As the mom of two children who have died, and the newsletter editor for a Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, I would like to ask for permission to print this in our Chapter newsletter. It is not sold to anyone – and we have no dues for membership (we already paid the highest price as a member because a child has died). Would you kindly give me permission to use this piece, with, of course, credit to you as author.

      • Heather Blair
        Reply

        Heather Blair

        October 18, 2016

        Absolutely. Feel free to print in your newsletter. Compassionate Friends is a wonderful service to grieving families. Thank you.

    2. Reply

      Alice Mattsen

      October 18, 2016

      I shed tears for your pain and that of others’. Both my parents and youngest 2 brothers along with a sister in law are gone. Our family is torn apart because of bitterness and unforgiveness. I am one at fault because of judging and gossiping. I’m seeking forgiveness and mercy. My prayer is that our family can reconcile before another one of us passes. As things are pictures would only bring bad feelings of guilt and pain. May our family mend and create many good memories before it’s too late.

      • Heather Blair
        Reply

        Heather Blair

        October 18, 2016

        Prayers for unity and peace for your family.

    3. Reply

      Billy Jo Moio

      October 21, 2016

      “After losing Austin, we had a blanket made from his favorite t-shirts. Woven together, it is a tapestry of him and all the things he loved. Baseball tees, vacation mementos, fire department shirts he proudly wore, and more. These were clothes in his hamper, not his closet, because they were his daily attire. The blanket now hangs over the back of our couch. Soft and comforting, pieces of him that are always near, when we need to be hugged with memories.”
      Thankyou for sharing your story. What a beautiful idea! I have a few of my son’s clothes packed away, still unable to part with them after 7 years. . I’m going to see if I can make something comforting from Ryan’s well worn favourites. x

    4. Debbie Wieck
      Reply

      Debbie Wieck

      December 8, 2016

      Love your words x I hate the fact that our family will never get anymore photos as a family of 6 the way it was before we lost our beautiful brown eyed boy Jacob at 20yrs old Oct ’15. I do love it when his friends post a picture of him on Facebook that I’ve never seen before, bittersweet at the same time. We have a life size cut out of Jacob that we take out at every family function to know that he’s physically there with us all & to have photos with. People may think we are weird but that’s the way we roll x I have been writing too in a blog honouring Jacob with the words & I’m finding that it is helping me with grief & loss

    LEAVE A COMMENT