I share pictures all the time. I Instagram, I tweet, post to my personal Facebook feed. Big events, little events, everyday life, I’m snapping it on my phone, or grabbing my camera, and sharing it.
Last Friday night, my oldest was celebrating the completion of his years at elementary school. There is a ceremony, and certificates, and t-shirts for the middle school they’re headed to, and it’s a big deal. My mother was travelling, and wasn’t going to be able to be there, but she knew I’d have pictures up on Facebook pretty quick.
Only, I didn’t. I wasn’t really sure why, but I just couldn’t post them. It took me nearly a week to put them up. Somehow, it just didn’t feel… right.
Last night, as I looked through the photos, selecting which ones I wanted to post, I realized why I had waited. That Friday night, May 24th, was supposed to have been a celebration for all of the kids. Jeep and his classmates, many of whom had been together in that same school for 7 years. It was a great evening.
But after? Later that night? One of those kids had his life changed forever.
His older brother was taken in a tragic accident while living HIS dream of racing cars.
Just a few hours after we had all said our goodbyes to friends, snapped our last photographs, and headed out the doors, full of smiles, hopes and dreams, a family’s worst nightmare unfolded.
And I struggled. I hurt. I hurt for the boy who is in nearly every single shot I took of Jeep because they were standing together. I hurt for the boy who I had grabbed Friday night to hand a print of a photograph I had taken the week before at our Field Day activities. A print that I wanted to make sure he had, one where he was gently helping a special needs preschooler have a blast, and showing such heart and tenderness that it had brought tears to my eyes when I saw it. I hurt for the little sister, who had army-crawled with my daughter along the gym floor so that they could take pictures with their little cameras of their big brothers. I just hurt.
That Friday night should have been full of celebration for that family. There should have been ceremonies and checkered flags and smiles and hugs. There should have been an older brother laughing and telling him stories of football games, and dates, and how to work the lockers at the middle school. Instead, that Friday night will forever be one of heartbreak for them.
I had assumed that I would have the photos posted Friday night, Saturday morning at the latest, but every time I tried to look at those photos, I just couldn’t do it. Yesterday, we attended the funeral – the kids had wanted to be there in support of their friends, so we went. Last night, finally, I posted the photos. Last night, I shared the joy we had together.
We’re reminded that life can change in an instant. Hold those you love close, and focus on the joy. Never forget the heartbreak – often it is what makes us who we are, but FOCUS on the joy.