“A picture is worth a thousand words” or at least that’s what they say. The truth is pictures can be deceiving. Sometimes the author or subject chooses to let the viewer in. Other times we see what they want us to see. Pictures can hide ones insecurities and make someone seem confident, they can make a broken home seem whole for a moment, all while hiding the true story behind the image. Not all images have broken stories, but stories none the less. At least through my lense they do….
This is a picture of my 8-9 year old self, holding a friend of my parents new baby girl. I’m sure at some point in the evening I asked or was tasked with “feeding the baby”. No big deal. I was good with kids. I’ve feed a newborn before. I’ve got this. At some point the camera came out, a picture taken and a story hidden. At the time I’m sure I thought, wow I must be like a super pro at this for my age cause they just took my picture. Regardless the baby was fed, a picture taken and life continued. Occasionally invoking me watching this baby girl again and her brother.
Several years later,as a naïve 11 year old, I can remember my parents buying land, starting our new house and there being a flatbed trailer in the back of the construction area. Free and empty, like a stage waiting to be danced on. I spent a lot of time on that trailer while my parents worked inside. Once the girl and her brother where there and together we played on that flat bed trailer. I can remember thinking I was like some babysitting prodigy, my imagination stemming from the above picture, and I pretended to receive a babysitting award in which I gave a Emmy worthy speech where everyone,with tear filled eyes, stood and applauded for. Babysitters club was obviously my top favorite book series at the time. Like I said, naïve 11 year old.
Obviously I grew up and the reality that I wasn’t the worlds best babysitter, and if I was they didn’t give out awards for it, was crushing but teenage years set in and soon babysitting wasn’t the cool thing to do anymore. On to the crime solving adventures inspired by Nancy Drew, but we will save those for another day. Nevertheless that picture had a story, one that I didn’t become aware of till much later.
See some small facts about my childhood you may not know.
- I was a pastor’s kid. This meant we were around all kinds of people often and people tend to think pastor’s children are more responsible, again I was naïve, which made someone trusting an 8 year old with a infant to me seemed normal.
- I was an only child. In a youth group filled with siblings, I kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. I got annoyed with my friends who complained about their siblings coming into youth group and hanging out with their friends…. I really just wanted someone to complain about.
- I was adopted. I know I know a million questions going through your head. But the biggest one I’ll answer. Yes, I’ve always known. The question of if I had siblings was something I wanted to know since I was young. My heart seemed to ache for them, beyond just someone to babysit.
So back to the story. If you don’t already see where this is going.
So the picture that I thought was the start of my babysitting rise to fame, was really me cluelessly feeding my sister. See like I said above I was adopted and my parents and my birth mother stayed close, so close that we hung out at thanksgiving together, their parents were friends and my siblings and I were raised together, all the while just thinking we were nothing more then just family friends.
I was about 16 when I was told who my biological mother was. A few months after my brother and sister were told and from there the world changed. My sister always loved me, even before we knew. We all went to the same private school so she would run to hug me when she was at elementary recess and I was heading to lunch. When she found out that we were sisters she told everyone and I mean everyone.
Over the next couple of years we hung out and spent time together as sisters but we didn’t get super close till I moved back from college and she was in high school. During her freshman and sophomore years we along with our brother and some friends spent most of our weekends playing card games or board games. I can still remember going over on a Friday night and spending hours debating on what to eat and what to play before finally deciding at 11pm. Most nights we laughed till we cried out of sheer exhaution.
Eventually my brother graduated, I got married and he, along with his crazy roommates and my family lived next door to one another, that’s a story for another day. Our late nights soon moved to the dueplex and over time life took hold and the game nights faded away. In 2013 I had our first child, 2014 he got married and I had our second child then in 2015 I had our third child and my brother and wife welcomed their first child to our crazy world.
For my sister and I Sundays became our weekly hellos. Occasionally she would join in for a fall bonfire or a taco tuesday. Game nights popped up every once in a blue moon and shopping trips occurred quartly. We were so much alike yet different in the same that we each had our own opinions on life. Unfortunately the juggle of life was tough and our relationship suffered.
In life some times it’s hard to balance a relationship with your husband, being a mom of 3 young ones and then working part time on top of that. Add in grandparents and inlaws and you have something every week. It’s no excuse I know, but it’s something I should of worked harder at then. The juggling act though can be exhausting but again not an excuse.
As a parent, in my thirties, the reality of life without my parents and grandparents is a haunting thing. It’s something that sometimes creeps into my minds after I ask my mom a cooking question or call just to hear her voice. The reality that one day they won’t pick up the phone is overwhelming. It’s not something I dwell on but sadly I try to SLOWLY prepare my self for it.
When my mom called at 4am one Friday morning I thought the reality had come. Relieved by her quick response of “your dad and I are fine” caused my tense nerves to relax… for only a moment.
My sister. The 22 year old, full of life, ray of yellow sunshine was gone. One fatal crash. The surge of emotions still reel like waves crashing against a rock. So many questions, so many thoughts and sadly so many regrets.
I’m not writing this for sympathy, the past is in the past and the time I missed out is now something I have to live with. See behind every picture is a story; and often those stories become cautionary tales.
Mine is of a girl, who longed for a bother and sister but in the weight of life, failed to be there for so many moments. Sure I have images of us during the milestones, but everyone surrounds you during your highlight reel. The years we were close, I’ll hold tight too. The late nights filled with laughter I’ll play on repeat in hopes that the noise will drown out the silence of the more recent nights.
Despite miles, opinions and lifestyles, love… with everything. You never know when a farwell or a hug will be your last.
My heart ached for you before you were born and now it aches again for you. Your fearlessness use to frustrate me. The conversations we had about broken hearts and hurt friendships made me think that my cautious life was the smarter choice. You never loved someone halfway though. If they were in your life you embraced them as they were with caution to the wind. I see now that I was wrong. I’ve learned to love everything about every moment of life and to love those around me without borders. To never leave a question or word unresolved.
So many things will remain unsaid. So many questions left unanswered. One day the laughter will return, the memories will once again be sweet and life will continue but there will always be a missing piece. You made sure that every life you touched would miss you… and I surly do.