how i am | bradenton, fl photographer

I’m standing here in my proverbial underwear.  I’ve had quite a few people ask me how I am recently, so I thought I’d just put it out there.

I’m here.

Sometimes that’s the accomplishment for the day.  I lost my mom 11 months ago to colon cancer.  It has been a tumultuous year full of highs and lows.  I strive to focus on the positive, so I’ll list those first.  We welcomed Bodie into our family, and he is an absolute dream of a baby.  My photography business has grown beautifully and is on a great path.  My husband’s business is doing well.  Carter is healthy, strong, and learning so much day by day.  Just watching him become a “kid” and not a “toddler” is fascinating.

But, grieving has been the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced.  I know there are many people that truly care how I’m doing.  But, it’s just easier to say “fine” when someone asks.  Grieving is so complex and so all encompassing, that I truly believe that if you haven’t experienced it first hand, you can try to sympathize, but it’s impossible to wrap your brain around the depths of grief.  11 months out and I am still struggling.  I am having great weeks now.  It used to be I had good days and bad days.  Now, it’s stretching, and I have longer good stretches.  But, this past week knocked me down again.

I am a person who remembers numbers and dates.  I remember my 6th grade locker combination (16-6-32, by the way).  I know my childhood phone number.  I can still recite the address I lived at when I was 5 years old.  Every July 2nd I think “this is the day I met Richie”.  Every January 17th I remember that “this was the day I found out I was pregnant with Carter”.  So, this week a year ago was when our world turned upside down and we found out that mom was not a candidate for the clinical trial and that she only had 2-4 months.  She made it 1 month.  Robbed.  I felt (and feel) robbed.

When she first met with her oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center she said “the average life expectancy of someone with your disease is 2.5 years”.  Carter was in my lap.  He was 7 months old.  I wept.  That only got him to 3 years old.  My mom literally prayed that baby into my life.  And she was only going to know him until 3?  And then, only until he was 2?  She died 2 weeks before he turned 2.  We were robbed.  So, now as I think of his 3rd birthday party preparations, my mind can’t help but jump to “she was supposed to see this”.

The good news is that she has the best seat in the house now.  But, not getting to hear her laughter at Carter is literally heartbreaking.  Carter (and Bodie) are so blessed to have such loving grandparents that want to be so involved.  But, there’s a hole.  A 5′ 2″ brunette, green eyed, song bird hole.

My mom was so proud of my photography.  She was extremely supportive of me as I first started out.  She was my babysitter for my first shoots that I did for free.  She wanted to see each and every gallery I put together.  She ran a wildly successful real estate business (even when other great agents were having to wait tables while the economy crashed) and so her business advice was always spot on.

I’ll be honest.  My first shoots back after she passed were near impossible for me emotionally.  It felt empty and wrong to proceed without her.  I cried over a chat with a dear friend one night.  I needed to edit a session, and couldn’t.  I just couldn’t do it.  She (my friend) told me to take her with me.  I did.  And it felt good.

For any blog readers that may have lost someone?  My heart pours out to you.  For those of you concerned about me?  I love you for that.  You are awesome.  I can’t express my gratitude enough to my friends and family that are so sweet and supportive of me while I try to figure out how to walk forward without her.  I could NOT have made it through this year without my wonderful loving and patient friends and family.  There are certain friends that have been my crutch on days where I barely made it through the day.  My wonderful husband, Richie, is the leader of that pack.

Don’t worry.  Next week I’ll have a good week.  And I keep shooting.  I want to.  I love to.  I do it in honor of my mom.  At every shoot I feel like she’s with me.  I was paralyzed at the thought of doing it without her, so I won’t.  My mom had the most contagious smile and laugh.  Oh that laugh.  You could hear it a hundred yards away.  But, you definitely knew when she was happy.  I want that for my clients.  I want that for my business.  I want to capture that extraordinary love.  The extraordinary love of a mother and newborn, of a whole family, between siblings, of a cheerful 6 month old.

So, thank you for asking about me.  I’m doing better.  I’m just learning how to live without her physical presence, and trying to learn to feel her spirit and find happiness in that.  I have a wonderful little family.  I have an incredibly supportive (and tolerant) husband.  I have an adorable almost 3 year old son.  I have a precious 5 month old that will laugh at anything.  Blessings follow me everywhere!

And because it wouldn’t be a post on my blog without photos… I was just finishing up Margaret’s gallery, and these 2 images really make me smile… I hope they bring a smile to your face too.  See?  Love.  It’s what it’s ALL about.

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