As I turn out my bedside lamp on the eve of my ‘forever 20’ year old son Jacob’s 4th Heavenly birthday his 24th I glance at the photos in a frame on the wall – a glass picture frame with 6 individual spaces. Only 5 of the spaces are filled with photographs. There’s a photo of my girls together and then individual ones of my 4 children. The photo that is missing is supposed to be of my 2 boys together on the beach when they were 12 & 14. I have that photo on my computer for 12 years but have never had the opportunity to get it printed to fill that space. Maybe I won’t fill it now as I don’t want to change it, just as I am a changed person now after all those years.
Family photos take on a different meaning now. I crave to look at the old ones when my family was complete, although it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I will always wish we’d taken more and that I was in them more often as I was usually the one capturing it for the future. I’m so glad I took videos too, to capture voices, laughter and real life happening in action. But we will never get anymore. We have to think outside the box and reinvent our family photo without Jacob physically with us anymore.
People may think us weird when we get Jacob out of the box as his life size cardboard cut out at family functions. We stand their next to him raising a glass as a toast to him at various celebrations like Easter, Christmas and birthdays. Over the years we will change but Jacob will stay forever youthful just as photos capture people at their true age at that moment in time.
Amy gifted our family a beautiful present at Christmas 2017. It was a pencil drawing of our family. Five individual photos were sent in to a company to have us drawn. Amy, Rachel, Benjamin and Jacob as individuals and Pete and I together as you can only upload 5 for one print. What a great idea. This was a way to give us more family photos even though we’ve seen these facial expressions in print before, my heart went all a flutter when I saw the finished product. This is a new way of viewing our family together as we travel further into the future. We can add new family members as they enter our tribe as fiancées, husbands, wives and grandchildren.
As another Christmas without Jacob rolled around again I put a twist on Amy’s gift of a family picture last year. I knew of a local talented artist and had asked him to create a painting of my young adult children from a photo taken of them on our last holiday together in Hawaii. I couldn’t make up my mind which photo to recreate so I left the decision up to him. When I saw the finished product I knew he’d made the right choice and again my heart was all aflutter.
Pete too joined the bandwagon with this new way of capturing us all together as a family of six. As Jacob’s 24th birthday approached (his 4th Heavenly birthday) Pete shared with me a photo that brought a smile to my face. A complete family photo of all 6 of us ‘turned yellow.’ We were all drawn as if we were straight out of an episode of ‘The Simpsons.’ It was just like a scene from the show. We were in the lounge room on a couch. Jacob was sitting on the floor, leaning against the lounge as a backrest, I was next to him with my hand nearly touching his shoulder, Pete was next, then Rach, then Amy and Ben was sitting on the armrest, sitting highest of all. With Jacob sitting on the floor it was a real representation of him not being with us all in the physical form as the rest of us fought for a spot on the couch. Jacob would have thought it was funny tha5 he was sitting on the floor because at the beginning of every episode on ‘The Simpson’ something always happened to the couch, whether it be someone was pushed off it or blowing up or some other obscure and random thing happening to that family space. This show was frequently watched on repeat throughout Jacob’s cancer ordeal. The episodes distracted him from the fight of his life and offered a brief light hearted humour. I can’t seem to bring myself to watch an episode as it hurts too much, but the thought of it brings a smile to my face to know how much the show and characters meant to Jacob. This picture has been proudly placed in several spots within our house in lots of rooms and is also my cover photo on Facebook at this present time. I hope he likes how we all look as Simpsons characters.
As we continue to capture family moments while I’m using Jacob’s camera I will keep in mind those words on the title of my 2nd self-published book – Every picture tells a story. Ed Sheeran also chose his words wisely in one of his songs and I will quote them in the last sentence of this story entry as it ties in nicely with the theme of the ways we showcase our new family pictures – ‘we keep this love in a photograph, we made these memories for ourselves.’
The love in our family grows strong and deep, leaving special moments to treasure and keep.
So as I wake up on Jacob’s birthday I glance at the empty space once again in the picture frame on the wall beside my bed, my eyes move around the individual photos of my children within the frame. I wish Jacob happy birthday and think of the ways I can honour the day that should revolve around him coming into my life as a young mum. I’ve decided I will leave the family picture frame with that incomplete spot. For there will always be a missing piece in our family….but he lives on in our hearts, our memories, our stories, our laughs, our smiles, our tears, and within our family pictures on our walls whether they be in real life or drawn as caricatures. We see you Jacob 😊