I wish I knew how to write it all out, how to say everything I want to say, but I felt like I needed a bit of distance between myself and the last year before I even began to think about it.
You see, it was a year of personal loss and professional gain and in a way I feel like that’s always how it goes. When one thing in your life is going well, something else suffers. We had a lot of loss in my family, my grandfather passed away and it left a deep sorrow that I wasn’t sure quite how to process. I can deal with most any kind of physical pain without skipping a beat (for those that don’t know me so well, I broke a toe in the first hour of shooting a wedding and kept on going right through the other 11 hours), and yet this pain was different. My granddad had always had that unconditional love that grandparents have, that sometimes bordered on the hilarious. When I dyed my hair a fluorescent red as a teenager (and looked a bit ridiculous according to everyone else in my family, they were right, there is photographic proof), he was the one who thought I still looked absolutely beautiful.
What’s been almost harder to process is the loss of my grandma, she’s still with us, but suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia. To see the once vivacious, beyond wickedly funny, and intelligent woman she was become an empty vessel is a difficult burden, and one I have to say my parents take the brunt of. I’m proud and impressed by the way they handle it, it can’t be easy. She was so giving of her time and herself. I miss our conversations, and just the little things like saying her nickname.
This last year has had me reliving some of my family moments, through the photos and little notes written on the backs of them. I remember my very teeny grandma telling my brother and I that she was “average height” for her generation and the two of us, who towered over her, laughing. We found some photos fairly recently of my grandma and her group of friends and sure enough, she was the same height as everyone else!
There are few things that I regret, but not taking more photos of my family is by far the biggest. I have so many photos of my family from when I was little, but in the hubbub of life, you forget to take photos of your family as they are now. Sometimes I feel like the builder with a half-finished house. My resolution for 2015, if you can call it that, is to take more photos of my own family, as it grows and changes. To document our lives as I get to document the lives of others.
I’m so very thankful that this job means that I get to do just that, document other people’s lives and tell their stories, viewing some of my family story has made me appreciate it even more. Most, if not all of my favourite images of last year were of family and friends enjoying a moment at their weddings. Candid little morsels of time. I look through the photos and they remind me of the joy, love, nervousness and care that is this life.
I feel like I’ve written much too much, but my goodness, it felt good to get it out. I leave you with a poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. In the last year, I’ve questioned my path a lot, but this one, right here is where I’m supposed to be.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost