Always, Katie: Life Lessons from the Photos I Didn't Take

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Life Lessons from the Photos I Didn't Take

Last night, on my way to my twin mom board meeting, I had just gotten on the interstate when I caught a glimpse of the sunset out my passenger side window. It was one of those amazing, orange and pink, sky is on fire, makes you wanna pull over and gawk sunsets. Simply stunning.

And then blogger mode kicked in and I wanted a picture of that sunset SO BADLY! But I was driving, didn't have a passenger I could delegate the picture-taking to, and wasn't about to attempt it myself at almost 70mph. I knew by the time I reached my destination, the sun would've finished setting and the colors wouldn't be nearly as knock-your-socks-off, and I was frustrated. May have thrown a tiny tantrum in my head.

But I remembered a moment on our honeymoon over seven years ago that (I thought had) changed something in my heart. We were up early (or maybe late?), because jet-lag from the States to Europe is craaaazy... and we watched from our balcony as the ship glided toward the Amalfi coast of Italy. 

It was almost indescribably beautiful in the dead of night - the deep navy of the sky, interrupted by inky black mountains... small for mountains but still imposing. And on these mountains were lights, winding up them and breaking the darkness just enough to make out the houses these lights belonged to - bright, cheerful colors during the day, but mellowed by the night. The closest thing I can think of to compare the scene to would be dozens of Christmas trees with strings of lights and little house ornaments winding around each of them.

We watched together for a little bit, then I slipped back inside for my camera. It was a faithful little camera, a point-and-shoot digital that was actually very nice for a non-DSLR. With the strap wrapped firmly around my wrist and clung to with my pinky and ring finger because I was terrified I'd drop the camera off the balcony, I began snapping pictures. But when I looked at the view screen, I was momentarily devastated. All the pictures showed was a dingy grey sky with random little points of dull light, nothing like the absolutely stunning view we were experiencing in real life. When I realized that capturing the image was going to be impossible, I tossed the camera on the bed and snuggled up to my new husband to continue watching our approach and soaking in the beauty that we knew we'd never be able to show pictures of or probably even describe in words.  

It was a moment, a view, just for the two of us, and it cemented in my heart and mind that some things could only be truly enjoyed and appreciated in the moment. 

Amalfi Coast, via Pixabay
So as I stole quick glances at the fiery sky last night, I tried to commit it to memory, since it was destined to be one of those things meant to be enjoyed only in the fleeting moments I had it. And I thought of Amalfi. Of the many emotions flickering across my sweet Ethan's face as he asked me to marry him. Of the first moment when two occupied gestational sacs appeared, clear as day, on the ultrasound monitor. Of those early weeks when Abbie was giving us dazzling smiles, and scowling the second a camera app opened. Of Sam's precious, spontaneous cackles when he doubles over in mirth and the last thing I want to do is grab my camera and interrupt the fun. Of the moments (a minute apart) when I met both of them and everyone in the OR was either too busy or too overcome with joy and relief to think to take a picture of them with me. Those are the moments we need to commit to memory. 

Last night's sunset reminded me of why it's okay to not have every second of your life or your children's lives documented. YES, by all means, take the picture if you can! I've taken thousands of pictures and hundreds of videos! But we need to understand that - whether because of the insufficiency of technology or because cameras aren't always at hand - there are things we just won't be able to capture. And we need to learn to be okay with that. These are moments designed just for us. We may not be able to share them with the world, but we can treasure them with the ones who made the memory with us. Or in the case of my sunset, I can think of it as a gift, just for me, from a loving God who knew I needed it, or maybe just thought I'd like it. :-) 

What are some memories you have that a camera didn't, or couldn't, capture? I'd love to read about them in the comments! <3 

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