The Last First
Last week, we faced another milestone in this journey of grief. We faced the last of the “firsts”. The firsts are always the hardest after losing a loved one…especially a child. The first family dinner with an empty chair. The first family vacation with an incomplete family. The first time you mark heights on the children’s growth chart and one spot never moves. The first Thanksgiving. The first Christmas. The first time their birthday comes and goes and they weren’t here to grow a year older. The first day of school. The first anniversary of their home-going. Let’s face it, the firsts are brutal. There’s no other word for it.
Last week, we faced our last “first” after losing Sawyer. We had our first family photo shoot—as an incomplete family.
Most firsts naturally come at you with the passing of time. But not this first. We could control the timing of this one and I had deliberately put it off. I knew that after facing the “last first”, all else would be moving on with life with Sawyer behind us. I was so tempted to just stop. Stay. Not move forward. In fact, if it were just me, I would have never taken a family photo again.
But it’s not just me.
I didn’t want to take our photos. But I also didn’t want to look back on this season with regret and wish that I had done things differently. We have two other amazing treasures that we are blessed to raise. They need to know that they are enough. They need to know that they are important enough to be the beautiful subjects in family photos.
So, last week…we scheduled family photos. Family photos when our family wasn’t complete.
One of my dearest friends is a gifted photographer. As she took our photo’s, we laughed together and cried together. What a blessing to have her in our lives! I’m so thankful for the gentle nudging she gave me to make this a priority.
I see love in our photos. I see pain. I see the power of Jesus who has upheld us. I see a grieving mama who has put on a little weight. I see age in my face from the brokenness of my heart. I see a marriage that has been strengthened. A love that has deepened. I see a close friendship that my children have formed. I see the longing to have our Sawyer back. I see the hope of being a complete family again one day. I see a husband who adores his wife. I see a wife who treasures her husband like never before. I see the close knit bond I have formed with my remaining two kiddos.
Facing first’s after losing a child is so excruciatingly painful. Yet, facing these first are imperative. If we don’t face them, we become stuck. Stuck in the past, while the beauty of the present moves forward. It is such a delicate dance.
Our life is but a vapor. There is much work to be done in a short amount of time on this earth. Let’s not be so fixated on the past, that we miss the joy of the moment.