Today I listened to a mother whose four-year-old child was murdered, stand up at his funeral reception and talk about how blessed she is.
I’ve been going through one of the most trying times in my life as I head into a divorce from a man I’ve been with for twelve years. My daughter and I moved out of our 3300 square foot home into a 10×10′ room at my sister’s place. At three years old this change has taken a toll on her and she’s been acting out terribly and this morning, I was at my wits end and pleaded with her. “Why are you acting like this? Why haven’t you been listening to me?” She broke down into tears and collapsed into me before looking up into my face and saying, “I want Daddy’s snuggles. I miss Daddy and I can’t have his snuggles every night. That’s why I’m not listening.”
This split has been as cordial as a person could hope for, and her father sees her several times a week, for days at a time but, this is still one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. In general, my life feels out of control lately, and I’ve bounced around between fear, grief, doubt, anger and sadness. I’ve felt hopeless and even despondent. Then I got a call from a dear friend who could barely speak steadily enough to tell me that someone had taken her small nephew’s life. She wanted me to photograph the funeral reception.
Which brings me to today, a cloudy and cold afternoon in a beautiful country club, with a room full of people, many of whom I’ve known for years. Some even approach and offer me condolences in regards to the end of my marriage, right in the midst of their own terrible loss. At some point the boy’s mother approaches the podium and shares with us one of her favorite memories of her son. She goes on to talk about how blessed she is, because even in the short time he was here, she saw so much potential in him, and rather than mourn the loss of seeing that come to fruition one day, she allowed it to make her proud-Proud of herself as a mother for leading him in the right direction, and proud of who he was already starting to become. In short, she was glad to have had him at all, even if their time was cut short. Over and over she talked about being so blessed and fortunate, and she even managed a genuine and sincere smile.
I was worried about being able to bear witness to the grief from such a loss given my emotional state of late, but I left this place fuller than I arrived. I try to hold fast to the idea that every loss should fuel a gain, that there’s a blessing in every lesson, even the hardest ones and, we owe it to those whose lives were cut short to truly live ours, because who are we to be cavalier with a gift so precious and fleeting? Sometimes it can seem like we are being pummeled by one blow after another and we wonder how much more we can take and what could possibly be the benefit of such a rough patch but, sometimes a hard circumstance needs to proceed an even harder one in order to put the first into perspective; Perspective is what I received today. Today reminded me how strong a woman can be, how strong a mother has to be, and how unwavering gratitude can see us through. I feel privileged that this family trusted me with one of their hardest days in life, and I am honored to have been of service. Rest in peace sweet boy, and thank you.
Bikers Against Child Abuse stepped up to help this family. They ride for an amazing cause and this family was incredibly grateful for them. For more information about B.A.C.A and how you can help, visit the website: