Two days ago, I went to the home of long-time clients (who I certainly consider friends), Amy and Jonathan.
Their son, young Jonathan, is thirteen-years-old and was diagnosed in October of 2017 with cancer.
Watching his fight has been inspiring and filled with so much hope, but recently Jonathan’s prognosis has changed.
Jonathan is now home and all treatments (other than his strong-will and amazing family-strength) to abolish this horrible disease have stopped.
I went to their home for the photo session that was postponed months earlier in lieu of appointments and days of exhaustion for Jonathan, and, after our time together the other day, as I culled through the images, so many little things (that are really so big) stood out to me.
I saw a scared little brother who just wanted to play with his big brother.
I saw a father with a “no one fights alone” bracelet and a love for his son that I can honestly say I have never witnessed so fiercely before.
And I saw a mother who was smiling… but I have taken photos of this family for almost 7 years and I know her smile. This one was different. One that she needed to have, whether it be for both of her sons, her husband, her mother, her sister, her grandmother- even a guest in her home who was there to take what might be their last family photo session together, or for herself to get through another day making life beautiful for her first born. I noticed her nails, chewed endlessly from emotions, feelings, thoughts, despair, and so many other unimaginable concerns that have made me stop several times to pray to God for this mother's strength since such a weight to bare has been placed on her.
But, what stood out most was the love they all shared (they have always been so close and wonderful to watch interact together, but this was a new love). A new appreciation for that day, that hour, that minute- every second.
Leaving that house the other day made me realize so many things that we all should already know; so many things we take for granted!
Stop stressing over the little things.
Stop (and I am speaking mostly to myself here) worrying if the laundry hamper is full or if the dishes in the sink are done. Sure, they need to be, but not if your toddler is tugging at your shirt to play Candy Land or your 11-year-old asks you to paint her nails. No, don’t have them “wait a minute” only to have them move on to something else by the time you put that load of laundry in. Don’t miss that window. YOU “wait a minute” and do the laundry when they go to bed.
Stop wasting time on things you have no control over.
Turn off the television. Get off your phone. Stop LOOKING for things to stress about. Look up from your screen- there’s probably a kid on the other side of it that doesn’t give a flying hoot who won the most recent election or football game. Who doesn’t care what that Pinterest craft is or how many people “liked” the most recent picture of all of you on Facebook. For the love of Pete, get some pasta and yarn, make a necklace and turn of the screen… and snuggle.
Breathe them in. Really breathe them in.
Listen to them- and look into their eyes when you do. Be engaged. Someday the endless chatter you “mmm-hmmd” while you were doing something you thought was more important at the time might be gone and you would do anything to have it back and really listen (even if they are talking about why they like grape ice pops more than orange).
Love your WHOLE family.
I always tell my girls they will all need each other more than they know someday and the drive home from the Thompson’s home solidified that for me.
I watched this ENTIRE family fighting the other day. Not with each other, but together against everything that this horrible disease is. I watched them fight back tears, fight to smile, fight to make sure that day wasn’t the last day they would fight together to have Jonathan a little longer. Grandma, Great Grandma and his Aunt were there, and they were all fighting, too. It was horribly sad and refreshingly beautiful at the same time. THAT is family. Don’t wait to realize how blessed you are to have them until you are faced with a battle such as this. Tell them now how much you need them now- on the good days and on the bad.
Again, I know these are all things I need to remind myself but figure it doesn’t hurt to share the reminders with everyone else. Days like Tuesday at this family’s home made me realize how profound the simplistic notion that "it truly is the little things" really is.