Maybe it is the amateur-iPhone-photographer-wannabie in me, but I see many important events in my life through a camera lens. I watch them unfold, and realize what a great shot that might be.
Under most circumstances, I will pull out my camera or my phone and try to capture the memory. Sometimes I'm not fast enough (that happens when you are the mother of boys) or maybe the shot didn't turn out exactly how I dreamed. But I still tried to capture the moment, and the imperfect photo is typically saved. It's not the perfect pose that I want to remember, it's the memory.
What about when a picture can't be taken though? Some moments are not appropriate or the lighting is completely wrong. The memory is still so important, but its visual representation won't be captured forever.
Those are the pictures that go un-taken, but always remembered.
Those are the photos of my heart.
I've filed away multiple photos like this in the past. I realize that taking a picture won't work, so I attempt to remember every detail about the scene happening around me.
One of these photos was "taken" a year ago. My grandmother had become very weak, and seemed to be losing her earthly battle with life. Louis was not yet born, and I feared she would never meet him. Nasko and I went to visit her one evening. She lay in the newly constructed hospital bed that had been placed in her room. The room was barely lit with a small lamp above her head. She was weak and tired, but still desired to be enthusiastic about our visit.
I remember being hit by the fact that she was not destined for much more time in this world. I silently mourned the fact that my children wouldn't share the same memories of bubble baths and baby powder - even when we were far too old - at Grandma's.
In that moment, it was as if Nasko knew it was a special time of peace and reflection. He stopped briefly and walked over to my grandmother. He put his brown fingers around her frail hand. He met her gaze and gave her a big smile as she watched him inquisitively. Nasko stood there in the stillness for at least a minute.
In that moment, the lamp perfectly illuminated Nasko's face. It seemed to create a sparkle in his eye as he smiled at my grandma. I so badly wanted to remember this moment forever. Their hands. The quiet. The love.
The room was too dark, and any movement would have distracted from the interaction. It was not the right time for a picture, but the memory is stored forever.
This is one of the photos of my heart.
Another photo stored deep in my heart occurred tonight.
I couldn't sleep and was getting very hungry. Finally around 2:00 AM, I snuck out of bed and headed towards the kitchen. I turned on the water to boil, and prepared to make myself some oatmeal. Not wanting to wake anyone, I used the flashlight of my phone to quietly prepare my snack.
Within minutes, a small frame appeared in the doorway. Nasko looked at me with a questioning glance - would he be in trouble for being out of bed?
I smiled at him, and he visibly relaxed. He joined me at the sink and I asked if he was hungry. Because he nodded, I poured him a bowl of cereal. Together, we took our food to the breakfast table. I brought the flashlight with us, and we spoke in whispered voices.
We discussed what time of day it was, and the toy dogs he had purchased the day before. We commented on the fact that Louis and Taty were still sleeping, but would be awake in a few hours.
I asked Nasko if he knew what we were going to be doing this morning, and he remembered correctly that we were going to be meeting E.
Nasko asked a few questions about the orphanage but then moved back to the topic of E. He asked when we would be able to bring E home with us. When I told him that the next day E would come with us to our apartment, he ate a few more bites of his cereal while deep in thought.
The smile on his face, his dark smooth skin, the love in his eyes, and the compassion of his heart are the things I want to remember from this heart photo as he posed his next statement:
"Nasko be a helper. Help E. Hold his hand. E sit by Nasko at lunch. All-done orphanage. Take him home."
His whispered voice and his matter-of-fact tone during the vulnerability of the darkness will be forever etched into my memory. I desperately wanted to photograph his thought-filled expression, but the lighting was wrong and my phone was unavailable.
Nasko, of all people, knows and understands that an institution is not where a child belongs. Children belong in a family. They belong around the dinner table. They belong in a home with their brothers. They belong in a place filled with love.
I will forever remember the determination in Nasko's words as he spoke of his brother's future. I'll never forget the understanding he shares with E as their pasts are similar.
I will remember that Nasko knows the love of a family is superior and that he cannot wait to share that with another.
These are the photos of my heart.