Before long, I could stand it no longer and I rooted through my purse for my small automatic camera stashed away for times like this. I immediately started snapping pictures.
“Mrs. Hammond!! I cannot believe you have that camera!! I thought you would have a real professional camera by now” Rachel was serious.
“What’s wrong with that camera?” Michael chimed in “I have the same camera, it takes great pictures Rachel!” he defended.
“No, no…You don’t understand, Mrs. Hammond is like a professional! She takes fantastic pictures, you should see them! Get your good camera, let her take the pictures here at the party, she’s amazing!”
My last good camera was lost at a wedding and I never replaced it. I had been busy working and left it somewhere that fateful day. No one at the church seemed to know what happened to it. I felt so irresponsible; my cameras had always been gifts from my husband. Then digitals came out. No, I wondered, what WAS the reason I had given up photography? It wasn’t just loosing my camera. No..... somewhere along the way I shifted to enjoying other people’s talents; people with more ability, particularly my daughter’s. She was becoming a very proficient photographer. We could talk for hours on the phone as I milled through her pics on line. In next few years two more of our daughters showed great interest in photography and were taking exceptional pictures, not to mention the new art form of altering photos to bring about incredible artistic effects.
"That’s it!! I am saving for a camera, I love this too much!!" And I think I truly understand the wealth of pictures, even those cheesy pics I used to take of people lined up at a celebration! I always used to say "There are good pictures or there are pictures for posterity, and on a good day you get one that is both!" They tell stories. These stories came to mind.
“The pictures will go in a book for the baby so he will know he is welcomed into the world, that we are waiting for him. He will know we love his mother and and we are promising to stand by her” I wept driving home.
The other picture story...
“Hmmmm … Sweetie it looks a little like you but I really don’t know for sure, I wasn’t here back then, go ask Marta or Lucy” Off she goes to find some answers while I am thinking how sad it is that we are this child’s family, and we collaboratively hold her childhood memories. But she’s tenacious, she’s tough because she’s been to hell and back. Weeks later she returns excitedly, carrying two pictures in her hand.
“Miss!! This is me!!” We look at them together discussing her hair length, who else is in the pic, what they were doing… but mostly we just celebrate her, her value, her power, her beginning, even if she was 5 and living in a shelter.” I don't weep when she leaves, I cannot think of her losses, I just go back to work, happy she has found a picture!
Yes Rachel…I do need a new camera, maybe not professional, but I need to see my world through a lens again, and feel that rush of capturing something real. I need to capture the beauty of people I love, of kids who have lost their childhood and yes Rachel I need to take pictures of your sweet baby!! Thank you, thank you for asking what happened!!!