“I don’t know all the details of their entire story but last night, I left this photo session feeling refreshed. Partly because this family made me feel like a member of the family. They were just like me, kids running everywhere, mom trying to not lose her mind with one kid going one way while the other is flopping on the ground the other way.
GiGi and Papa sitting back and enjoying it all because well, grandkids and they’ve already lived that life… and well, partly because their story makes me thankful. Thankful they shared it with me, thankful I met them to learn about them, and thankful that God placed them in my path on this summer evening in June.
This is Charlie and Papa. Papa is the ‘grandpa’ to this handsome little fella, and also the Papa to two cute babies. He is the Daddy two super gorgeous girls, the husband to one hot and precious momma and also the Dad to the beautiful man tattooed on his forearm, Chase.
7 years ago, Chase was taken from this Earth too early from a tragic car accident. Charlie was just 9 months old when his Daddy became an angel. Charlie is so smart, and so handsome. And when I put his sweet face next to his Papa’s arm, I couldn’t help but feel a frog in my throat as I looked at the resemblance of him and his Daddy.
The pain and the hurt that I saw surface from GiGi and Papa as they talked about their boy last night to me, how this was their first family picture since Chase left them. The pressure was immense on my heart, not because I couldn’t give them what they needed, but because, I wanted them to be absolutely perfect for them.
When I say this family was humble, loving, a unit. A solid unit. I mean it.
I drove away crying because I couldn’t understand, how do you keep living after losing a child… how do you survive? That hole in your heart, how does it ever fill again?
What I learned is, it doesn’t. Momma didn’t share very many details with me, and I didn’t ask her how she’s survived or is surviving. But I witnessed it instead. I watched the love pour from this woman’s eyes as she looked at her other children, chaos and all, clapping, singing ‘Wheels on the bus’ and claiming to have a tractor here and there for Carter to be distracted with (it didn’t work, FYI, haha!) and I would sometimes hear her laughing in the distance as we all sighed in relief that Carter and Chaselynn chilled for half a second and gave me a SMILE! I watched her go from quietly communicating with me because I was just a stranger, to warming to my goofy ways and warmly smiling and enjoying my presence.
I watched her husband help her down the beach and never leave her side, how he softly interacted with his children and grandchildren. How he proudly showed me his forearm and that boy of his that was tattooed on it. I heard Momma cheer from the background as I took pictures of her gorgeous daughters and she would say, ‘Smile that smile you do Sharley!’ because well, only mommas know the capabilities their daughters hold with their beauty.
I realize this is a little ramble, and most have probably read this far and felt it just kept going. And really, I could just keep going. Sometimes, I get lucky enough to hit a spark. A spark that lights my heart that not only reminds me that this career I choose to keep fighting for is right where I am supposed to be, but also a spark that shakes me and reminds me to be thankful for where my life is. It isn’t perfect, no. nor is this sweet family’s life, or yours, or anyone else. But it is the life we were given, and it’s a good one if you choose to find the blessing in each and every day.
Thank you, Sharley, for finding me. thank your entire family for trusting me, for listening to my dorky stories and sharing yours with me. you guys did more than just let me take your pictures, you helped me let go of some day-to-day frustrations by reminding me, life is just too short and what a blessing it is TODAY to have this day.”
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