Little Girl, Please Don’t Go

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There aren’t many times I regret not taking a photo, mostly because I usually don’t let an opportunity for an image go. I don’t often care if I feel awkward or if it’s inconvenient; as a photographer, I am always considering light and composition and how they influence the life happening around me. I almost can’t consider life without conserving as much as possible through a lens.

Tonight, I desperately regret not taking the image because it was beautiful and it was fleeting.

My girl asked me to have dinner last minute tonight. Her brother is with their dad and she is alone housesitting. She reached out to me like a friend, looking for company, wanting to connect. I left the gym and met her at Chive to share a salad and stories of the day. I love how chatty she was, her eyes light and bright and excited when talking about her new school schedule. She spoke of art and traveling and teachers and portfolios. She has always seemed so adult to me, but tonight somehow, the conversation reminded me of just how mature she is.

Her hair fell in soft ginger waves around her face, her ringlets less restricted as of late without product. With every day that passes, she seems to become more one with the earth. I admire her commitment to all things natural. Her eating habits are impeccable and she suffers no hydrogenated oils. I sat across the table from her, listening to her animated accounts, feeling distracted to think these days are so limited now that she is a senior. I envied her perfect complexion and thought about how I should drink more water.

Her eyes took a cue from the pale green wall behind her in their hue, heightened by the last of the golden light through the window as the sun sank lower in the evening sky. We opted for a quiet table in the corner, that really wasn’t quiet at all. Tuesday night is Kids Eat Free at Chive, but the screaming babies and wild toddlers were irrelevant. The little ones among my now big one were somehow apropos.

As she spun stories of her day and her varied plans for the future, all I could think of is how very grateful I am for this compassionate, warm, wonderful human. She is beautiful, to be sure, but it is a beauty that begins as a light deep within and seeps through her tiny pores, pausing at the freckles haphazardly dashed across her cheeks, screaming out her wide luminous smile she offers without hesitation to all.

Time waits for no man. I would even argue it sprints as if to test our emotional endurance. I wish I would have taken people more seriously when they warned me how quickly the years would go.

I wish I would have taken that image of my girl tonight at dinner, sweet face framed with soft curls, complete with perfect nose.

 

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Good Dog

2Q4A4372.HRYou are hardworking, impeccably observant, and fiercely loyal. You seem content to watch from your safe corner and take it all in, on-call and deeply insightful, but often reluctant to participate. All the while, you never neglect the implications and consequences of any associated action. You behave in a distinguished fashion, studious, decisive and methodical, punctuated with casual sarcasm and nonchalant humor, perhaps to deflect any suggestion of sensitivity. You seem very much a rule-follower. You are deeply concerned with following the letter of the law and checking all of the boxes. I am sure this is what makes you proficient in your career and why you have earned the seat you occupy.

This makes for a difficult dog life in many ways, however. You are not carefree in the capacity in which I know you, though perhaps bound by the confines of your professional persona. You aren’t one to blindly jump off a dock to chase a soggy tennis ball, or delve headfirst into unchartered territory. In my mind, you remain largely reserved, assiduously serious, conservative in mannerisms, and socially reticent. You do not appear to be recklessly playful, but show some lenience toward trainability. Maybe this is not the dog you are outside of the walls, but this is the limited, opaque picture I have seen, like trying to make sense of faded slides in a vintage slideshow, void of sound or subtitle.

Clearly, you must be willing to entertain some element of risk or you would not have pursued a passion that ultimately became your career, a fascinating dichotomy. You appear impossibly complicated and regretfully uncomfortable in the company of some, choosing instead to assign yourself the easier blanket label “introvert” because it’s viable. You have a fantastic smile when you choose to implement it. You have a gentle temperament, despite your intimidating frame. You embarrass far too easily, obviously endearing, but probably frustrating for you, betraying your working dog, deliberate demeanor. Of all of your dog qualities, what you perceive you lack in unconditional acceptance, you seem to make up for in kindness.

 You are a good breed.

Love Came Quietly

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Love left me lost for a long time.

But then love came softly. It crept gently into my consciousness like a quiet dream. Love returned like a familiar friend. It dabbed my bleeding heart. It hushed the doubting whispers and soothed my terminal attitude. It reassured my hopelessness. It comforted my resignation. Love wanted to make peace.

Something about you makes me want to love you.

Lost Boy

To the man who gave me two thumbs up and smiled approvingly as you ran toward me on top of the bridge this morning, I wonder if you stop for the same reasons?

I stop at Cole’s memorial everyday I run past it because I am a mother who loves a boy, too. I know how deep and steady that love runs, carved into my heart like a river wears through rock. I know to love a boy child is different than even the love of a girl one. I stop because somehow my obsession to keep running is quieted when I feel my legs might buckle under my stride if I can’t stop to honor his memory. I stop to pray for Cole and thank him for the lessons his life has taught me.

I only knew Cole in small stories, like when he would come into the snack room at school. I volunteered every other week, so much of the story is missing. My memories of Cole are like a book I think I read, but then regrettably remember I never found the time to pick up. I mostly remember his tousled hair and lopsided grin. They told me how down-to-earth and easygoing he was. Cole didn’t care to impress- he just did because of the kid he was. I took for granted that he would grow and go into high school like his classmates and go on to college like the rest of his peers plan to do. Their stories are still unfolding.

After the accident, I began measuring time in terms of “before Cole died” and “after.” Autumn is when things begin to die, but not in Florida. We don’t know winter. How could we become acquainted with death? Cole’s death disturbed me in ways I could have never dreamed. I found my mind was unruly and wouldn’t settle down, running in exhaustive circles all night. His death stirred in me the agonizing pain of regret and grief and loss. Nothing felt safe anymore. I questioned my ability to make good parenting decisions. Was I endangering the lives of my children by allowing them to ride their bikes? Walk to the park? Sleepover at friends’ houses? Eat solid food? Go out the front door? Tie their shoelaces?

I would tell that man running toward me, stranger that he is to me even in this small town, Cole didn’t die in vain. Every day, I squeeze my kids just a little bit tighter. I kiss them and tell them I’m so grateful for them. I don’t run with my back to traffic much anymore and I teach my children to do the same. I would tell thumbs-up runner that I admire Cole’s parents, that they still acknowledge a good God. I would tell him that my faith is too fragile to understand why he was taken from us so soon.

I would tell my fellow bridge runner that I stop to honor a boy who lost his life to a senseless accident, one that has torn a small town apart and left a gaping hole of misery for too many to make peace with. We soldier on, but we still look for signs and wonders and clues. We want an answer. We don’t understand why we lost a boy on a bridge that night. I would tell him I appreciate his kind gesture, but I’m not looking for approval for my quiet ritual. I’m looking for peace and offering my condolences to a family reluctantly of four now, as a mother who loves a boy, too.

 

Heart of an Artist

To know the love of an artist is to experience evidence of his passion all around. His pottery fills the kitchen cabinets, his photography brings life to the once dull walls, his sketches spill the sacred stories of his heart, his woodworking marvels make lovely spaces that were empty before, his hand-painted cards serve as reminders for milestones passed. His vision brings beauty to the mundane; his inventive hands make ornamental the ordinary. As a creative, he has no choice but to express his runaway imagination, even at the expense of exposing his deepest vulnerabilities.

How fortunate am I to keep the company of an accomplished artist who decidedly decorates my world with gifts he gives so generously. His uncanny ability to take a lump of clay and breathe life into it, or pick up a pencil and dream paper worlds into existence is a unique gift. Where words may fail him, color and form become him.

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Support the passions of your partner–whatever his medium may be. Celebrate his strengths. Illuminate his talents. His aptitude will be amplified exponentially within the walls of your home and of your heart, magnified in the most unexpected ways.

Promise Me

2Q4A9823.HRPromise me you’ll never leave me, you’ll learn to love me indefinitely. Promise me you’ll listen to my language, and speak in a tongue I will understand, too, so we will never grow apart. Tell me we will never tire of time together, for years to come, for adventures not yet lived, and stories still untold.

 

Protector

He was ruggedly handsome. A man’s man, a fireman. He wore calloused hands and arms as thick as the hoses he lugs for a living. Unassuming and humble, quietly observant, he was content to sit in the shadows and admire his wife at work. But when we invited him into the photos “for fun”, he willingly kicked off his shoes and pulled on a pair of jeans to match. His arm around her, but almost more notably, around her beloved dog, it was immediately apparent he is the protector. Clearly he adores her. I sort of think this is what love looks like.AmyFlick

Be Still

You are clever and kind, capable and humble. You’re self-assured without being [too] arrogant. You carry your confidence quietly. You are impossibly even-keeled, nothing ever seems to rattle you. I’ve not known you to have a temper, or ever be ugly with anger.

Your quiet presence is reassuring, like sitting under a peaceful starry sky at the edge of the ocean when it lays down at night. You exude adventure, and that is endlessly exciting. You are diligent, always watchful and aware, without sacrificing a childlike playfulness.

You are the perfect elixir of keeper and protector, but also court jester. You don’t give up jovial at the expense of intensity. You are schoolboy naive, and that is ever endearing. I often want to climb into your lap and stay a while, a very long while, or as long as you will tolerate sitting in the stillness with me.

I don’t know how to fold these feelings back up small enough to pack them away into a back pocket. I can’t seem to find the original creases to refold the edges neatly, like a map that’s never been opened, revealing the possibilities. I want to keep the light from saturating the colorful lines because that would only make the potential real.

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