Two weeks ago we lost out sweet girl Luna and yesterday we lost our old man cat McCavity.
I’m going to painfully honest here. I hope you will tough it out with me.
I have tons of pictures of them both. Beautiful photos of their loving faces. What I don’t have are photos of me with them. I’ve spent so many years hiding behind the camera because I was uncomfortable with my weight. In more recent years, I have really made an effort to get in front of the camera; because I know when my kids look back at these memories they are not thinking about my weight or my hair or whatever else. They are looking at their mom, and remembering how much fun we had.
But this loss has taught me another lesson.
I will never have those moments with my fur babies again. I will never throw a ball or run with Luna again. I will never have McCavity climb up on my chest and snuggle in. Why didn’t I have someone capture all of us together? I’ll tell you one reason, because it would’ve been hard. I will tell you now though, that it would’ve been so completely worth it. I would die to have images like the ones I take for my clients. Maybe this is why it so much harder for me to accept; because I know better.
As hard as it was, I documented every moment of Luna’s last day. We bought her ice cream. We watched as she tried to play with Pippa (my in-laws dog) and Pepper, but struggled to stand. She watched as they wrestled, longing to join in. I watched as my boys sat as close to her as possible, trying to soak in every last moment. I watched as she shook uncontrollably from the muscle spasms and pain. I watched as she sat in my husband’s lap and stared out the window as the neighbor kids played in the street. I watched as Pepper paced next to Luna’s bed, while we said goodbye. I watched as my children’s hearts broke. I still can’t bare to look at those photos, but one day I know I will want them.
18 years of Cat life and I have a handful of pictures of us together. One of those being as he was taking his last breaths and James (my oldest) snapped a photo on the vet’s camera. Like me, looking through the camera made the experience easier on my poor kids.
After both losses, I went on the search for photos of them. I needed to see them the way I wanted to remember them; not the current snapshots I had in my head.
I found beautiful memories. Luna was always the most beautiful model. She would look right at me and wait. She was always so gentle with the kids, even when they would try to climb on her or pull her tail. I found photos of the her with the boys, with the cats, with other kids, with Pepper. But there was always one thing missing; me. I cannot tell you how much I regret that choice. Even a selfie with her would make me feel better. You can bet that the next family photos we have done will include our pets.
I write this because I don’t want you to make my mistakes. Get in the photos. Get in the moment. Have that stranger take your photo of you all on your hike, or in the pool, or at the beach, or doing whatever it is that makes your family yours; and if you can include your fur babies! But please, please, please, get in the photo.
With all of this loss, I have truly found my why. Why I take portraits the way I do. Why I want to capture the real moments, not just the posed ones. Why I make you get in the photos with your pets. Why I sneak in photos of you loving on your kids. Why I love capturing love, and hope, and laughter. I have truly found my purpose.