Thursday, July 3, 2008


My life consists of many significant days. My first day of college, my wedding day, the birth of both my children, our first house, that one profound conversation with a friend that lasts a lifetime. Some days are significant to others as well as myself, and yesterday was surely one of those days.

My dear friends lost their son shortly after he was delivered. Yesterday I attended his graveside memorial service, knowing that what I was about to witness had broken my heart long before the service began.

My other photographer friend and I had asked whether or not they would like us to take pictures during the service, and with a swift "yes--please", I prepared my lens and camera more carefully than ever before. It was my job to capture the details and record that day--to somehow gather those moments of reflection, sadness, and eternal hope so that they could have something to hold onto. From the words of the babes sweet mother, "we want as much of him as we can get."

The moment I walked up I began to survey the situation to figure out where to photograph first. I scanned the crowd of people and noticed many of those who I was already familiar with as well as those I recognized to be the extended family. I crept around as carefully as I could so that my shutter's "click" would not detract from what was being said. Finally, I got close enough up front to see the tiny white casket. A blue blanket lay over the top, a bouquet of flowers adorned the edge, and his picture, during the last few minutes of his life, sat framed right beside. There was no doubt as to who we were mourning. As I crept closer with my lens, I was overcome by the scene that went on before me.

There his mother sat with white roses on her lap, and his daddy spoke of him with such courage that I stared in awe. His love and humor in such a dark hour was astonishing to behold. The click of my shutter seemed wrong somehow. How dare I detract from this moment? My eyes were blurry and I could not focus. There was laughter, there were tears, there were thoughts reflecting a somber yet eternal outlook on what had transpired. Plans that would never fall into place. Arguments between little brothers that would never be. Exhaustion felt by a mother of two would only be felt as exhaustion for one. My heart lept in confusion. How would I deal with such a tragedy? An expectation of life for nine months suddenly torn away without notice. I dare not ask.

A sweet tenor voice began in song and I realized that it was an opportune time for me to walk around the hedge with Brianna so that I might get a different view with my camera. I walked on tip toes so my heals on the pavement would not be heard and shushed Brianna to do the same. The song was gorgeous, a more perfect singer and a more perfect song could not have been sung. Suddenly in the middle of the verse, the singing stopped. My eyes darted to where he stood and I realized he could not go on. How could he? How could anyone? How could this family that I loved keep going after such a loss? How could I go on...knowing the suffering of another? I bent down below the hedge as the singer mustered enough courage to continue with his song. It was there that I wept. I held my daughter in my arms and I wept.

As the song finished I moved yet again and found myself viewing everyone that was there. I was behind the hedge of those who were speaking, and I witnessed more emotion than I dared prepare for. As his mother stood up to speak, she could not, and his father quickly removed himself from his chair to stand beside her. He held her, and they embraced as she spoke of her lost son. The spirit was overwhelming as she spoke of the day that she would see him again, and in that moment, I knew she would.

I was one of the last to leave. I didn't want to go. I glanced back at the tiny white casket searching for something more, something else to record with my camera that I must have missed. Wasn't there one more shot I was to get? Perhaps the symbolism of only the white casket--alone. And then I felt a wind, somehow warmer than the rest, and I realized he wasn't in that tiny casket. He was in God's House, with Him...and he was Home.


Rachel said...

I've read this sooo many times today and every time I read it I can't help but look at my children and cry. I've been having such a rough time with the kids lately: potty training, teething, screaming to be picked up, not playing "nice", etc. I was feeling totally overwhelmed this morning...until I read this. It seemed like all that stuff didn't matter anymore and I was just grateful for the opportunity to pick up my daughter, to potty train Bryce, and to teach Preston how to play nice. Thank you for writing such a beautiful post for your friends. My heart aches for them but I know they will see their son again.

Adam said...

Well said. Good thoughts.

Summer said...

I just want to hold my baby after reading this and never let her go.

Jessie said...

Carrie...I am so very sorry for your friend I don't even know them yet my heart feels like it has shattered into a million pieces!!
It is so hard to put something like this into words but you did it so well. You are a good friend to write something like this.

Dan and Merideth said...

Im one of Summer Woods friends and came upon your post by chance.

I have been completely moved by what you wrote. Tears rushed to my eyes just as they have to many others who have felt what you have felt.

My husband and I are trying- and for now with no success; I ask myself as you did "How would I deal with such a tragedy? An expectation of life for nine months suddenly torn away without notice." I only have the same response as you did; "I dare not ask".

For us right now it seams as though having a child is going to be hard to obtain, But I thank you for you post - that I came by in chance- for it has helped me; I herd and felt what I needed to hear.

Hope & Faith - Its in gods hands and whatever the lord has set for us its in his eternal plans.
Thank you.

Crissie said...

Carrie - absolutely poignant. Thank you for sharing this with me. I am bookmarking it to come back and read it again, I can barely see through my tears now.

You captured this in words and images very beautifully and surprisingly accurate... I'm sure that your friends feel blessed to add this to their memories.


sharon said...

thank you so much for leaving this link on my post - i am so glad i got to read it! it helps to know others share your pain and the picture you took is so precious. after my husband and i placed our baby's ashes in the sea i sang a worship song to God as just us two stood in the sand. in that terrible sad moment i felt the most beautiful laughter and knew that my son was home and very very happy. thank God for His love and salvation, i could not survive this without the hope He gives!

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