Last week was my daughter’s first week of daycare. I went through the full range of emotions, including but not limited to guilt, elation, sadness, doubt, and freedom (freedom is an emotion), all on repeat. In the week leading up to her first day, I followed her around with the camera constantly, trying to make it last longer. I found myself trying to memorize all the little details of her mannerisms and personality like I wasn’t going to see her again every single day. I made myself get in the picture with her, so she could see later that I was with her through this stage of life and she wasn’t just photographed by a ghost.
I knew that sending her off to school meant things will be different moving forward. We’ve been inseparable for the last 13 months. With the exception of 3 weeks back in January between my maternity leave and the end of my career at VCU, we’d never been apart for more than 3 hours at a time, and the last year has been both exhausting and a lot of fun. I liked teaching her things, having her as an excuse to go to the park and having someone to talk to on walks. I knew that once she went to school, it meant she was growing up and that our one-on-one time was going to be far less frequent.
It’s rare that you really know when you’re facing the end of a phase of life and can take the time to take a picture to make it last longer. Two different friends of mine have unexpectedly lost parents in the last two weeks. They couldn’t have known that the life phase of having their parent here would so quickly and unceremoniously come to an end. Even with the virus gaining speed around the country, very few people actually believe they’re going to be on the losing end of a loved one contracting it. We don’t think it will happen to us, and we don’t want to consider it as a possibility.
My point is this: none of us knows how long we have together. Make it last longer by taking pictures. Please take time to put yourself in photographs with the people you love. Hopefully you can enjoy the photos for decades, laugh with each other about hairstyles and fashion, and take thousands more pictures as the years pass. In the off-chance that you don’t get that opportunity, though, you might really appreciate having this photo, today. Even if you haven’t showered, or you’re not wearing makeup, or you’ve put on the COVID-fifteen. Take a picture; it’ll last longer.
Be careful this week and make smart choices, friends.