The following is a post from my family journal blog, written last month. I thought it seemed more than appropriate to add to here as these families are still on my mind and in my prayers.
This has been a busy month and in a busy time, it's so easy to forget the bigger picture while trying to remember if all the gifts have been packed in the car. Cancer has claimed the life of two precious souls this Christmas. One child, much too young to say good bye to his parents and friends. One young mother, with children much too young to yet understand what they've lost. One of these I'd never met but I knew her words well. She offered insight and spirit through her blog up until her last weeks. Ironically, during this time, I've been drawn to read Kelly Corrigan's book (The Middle Place) by the youtube video of her reciting her essay "Transcending". It rings so true. I couldn't begin to do it justice by summing it up so I won't try but google it, buy the book and be moved. I read tonight that it's as much an honor to be a witness to someone leaving this world as it is to witness their coming. Nothing could be more true. The difference, to me, is what lies before them. We know what a baby may face. We know, Lord willing, they'll learn and grow and be loved and give love. We pray they'll be surrounded by family and friends and laughter. There will be tears; some of joy, some of heartache. When we witness a soul departing from life as we know it, the fear and uncertainty are left in our hands. Those of us watching this transition are left to battle the void left by the departed. It's surreal. It's nearly impossible to wrap my mind around what that means. My work in bereavement photography has taken me to that place often. Quite an incredible honor; to be with this soul who, not long ago, had every hope and dream this world could offer pinned neatly on their shoulders and now leave a legacy which is yet to be determined. To watch my Keely leave this earth was like no other moment. To this day, 20 months later, my throat swells to think of it but I refuse to forget one second. I want to remember each thought that went through my head, each smell, the touch of every surface. To think that right now, at this moment, someone else is having that moment makes me ache for them. At that moment I said good bye to my girl, someone was welcoming their girl with utter and complete joy. At those moments of pure and total joy, when my boys were born, someone was standing at their child's grave. No pattern or reason, no predicting what moments we'll face in our life and to witness the end of this journey for someone is probably the most incredible honor bestowed on any other person. I just needed to get that out so I can recount these sweet memories with my boys from the holidays because only the Lord knows when memories will be all there is left of me.