Take the picture...

It has been a year since I got the call that my brother and his wife died a tragic death in an airplane crash along with another couple.

I remember after hearing the news that I desperately wanted to have some way to help. I was stuck here for a few days before we could join my family that was gathering in Eastern Idaho, so I decided that the only thing to do was compile photographs.

I went through all my blog books, photo albums, and digital folders finding all the pictures of them that I could and printing them off at Walgreens. I also hacked my sister-in-law's Facebook and printed all the photos I could find there. I wanted to hold the prints - to see their smiles and the evidence that they lived. I wanted to arrive there with something so I bought frames and inserted photos and once in their completely-full-of-people-yet-somehow-sadly-empty-of-the-two-that-should-be-there home, I stuck them on every surface that I could find.

As I went through years and years of photos, there was one that stood out to me more than all the others. It was this one - the two of them on a log in a forest in Washington after a rowdy game of hide-and-seek. I immediately sent it to mom knowing that it was a photo that she didn't know existed.

This photo ended up being used a great deal for their funerals and I was so grateful that I took this picture... even if it was kind of hard.

You see, my brother David and I have always been close - it was his talent to be close to you. But something happened a few years ago - I don't even know what it was... something I did, said, or just one of those phases that sometimes happens in this thing called life... but he pulled away. He would come to town but wouldn't come visit, his texts stopped, the easiness of our relationship shifted and for the first time I felt uncomfortable in his presence. I tried everything I could think of to return to our familiar state but the more I tried the further I felt him go. In all honesty, it was kind of breaking my heart.

During this time, we went to Washington for a family reunion. We ate, we played, and ate some more - it was Anderson madness and I tried to assure myself that things could be normal between David and I again. 

I am a picture taker in a family of picture takers so people shoving cameras in your face is a normal occurrence if we are together. I distinctly remember taking lots of photos this day of the games and the pizza feed and all the cousin craziness. It was comfortable and easy to take these photos. Then out of the corner of my eye I remember seeing David and Jess sitting quietly off to the side. And I can still recall the vivid mental conversation with myself:
"Go take their picture."
"They don't want ME to bug them."
"Look at that light - look at them - It would be a lovely photo - Take the picture!"

And so I did. 

I walked over and said, "You guys look amazing - can I please take your picture?"

And I am so grateful.

And I will keep sticking my camera in people's faces because you never know if someday those prints will be the only way you can see the blueness of their eyes or the smile crinkles in their cheeks. I miss David. I miss Jess. I miss their notable presence in the giant puzzle that I call my family. We are not the same without them. I am not the same without them.

No matter how good the picture is it is not as good as them - here, in the flesh... but it is better than nothing and I will be forever grateful for this photo and the hundreds of others taken by amateur Anderson photographers...

So the next time you are together as a family - take the picture.

Especially if it is the hard one to take.


Britt said...

I love this!!! Thank you!

Jana Weaver said...

I love this message too...I love taking photos but some people seem not to like it more than others, or at least voice it. Photos are the best way for me to remember everything. I'm glad others feel somewhat like I do. I'm so sorry you've had so much loss in your family. I hope you and your family are doing okay.

HowellAZ said...

This picture is amazing! I loved the sentiment of your post. Thanks for sharing your feelings. Hard to believe a year has flown by. I remember I was standing in the girls' bedroom looking at my phone (FB) when I saw Blake's post about the accident. My heart went out to you and your family then and still does. That is such a tragic loss.

Jo said...

Sweet sorrow...

Kara Bowman said...

Please keep taking pictures I only wish I had more!! And Thanks for putting into beautiful words the hard things.

Danielle said...

What a beautiful photo. I so admire the sister and daughter you are! I pray for you and your whole family often. xoxo