Today I hung a picture.
It isn’t just any picture. It’s a picture that has been making its way around the flat surfaces of my home for a while now – safe, but just out of view – patiently waiting for the time when I was ready. A gift from my sister, it is a rare photo featuring my entire immediate family – my sisters, their husbands, their kids, my husband, our kids and my mom and dad.
It’s also the last family photo in which my Dad will ever appear.
That day was a good day. We were celebrating my son’s flight from the nest into college life. (Because I didn’t get it together to have a graduation party, so we made it an “off to college” party instead. I am THAT mom.)
It was a beautiful, sunny day surrounded by immediate family, extended family, and friends, all eating, laughing, playing croquet and just enjoying each other’s company. It was a day of celebration, of joy, of happiness. Family photos aren’t a rare thing for us, but they are usually snapped at holidays and rarely is everyone present in the photo because someone is always taking the picture. And sometimes, in the mass chaos of family get-togethers, even those fragmented family pictures, featuring our respective families, or sister pics or pics of the grand-kids, don’t get taken.
But on that day, the picture was taken and the picture is perfect. No eyes are closed. No baby melt-downs are occurring. And you can feel the happy reality behind the smiles on everyone’s faces.
Little did we know just three months later, that happy reality would be shattered, when we got the call on Thanksgiving morning and rushed to the hospital to learn Dad was no longer with us.
Oftentimes, this is where you hear the “make time for family” speech.
I’m not going to say that though, because the truth is, we are all simply trying to navigate this maze called life the best we can and, as much as we would like to be at everything, all the time, sometimes that’s not possible.
What I will say is, when those moments happen, take a few minutes and take that picture. Memories fade, but like a favorite song or smell, that picture helps bring those memories back to the surface.
There were tears as I placed that picture on the wall, but there were also smiles as I was able to finally look at the picture and remember that day for the perfect day that it was.
Today I hung a picture and for its existence I am thankful.