The Family Picture Miracle

Family Pictures.

You know how it goes. The boys complain and drag their feet. The mom usually heads it up, begging for participation and cooperation. The teenage daughter helps with coordinating outfits and hopes we don’t look completely ridiculous.

This session will always be counted as a miracle in my book. I had originally scheduled this shoot back in March. That date ended up being the day after my sister-in-law, Meghann’s, funeral and so we rescheduled. My oldest son, Justin, and his wife, Taylor had hoped to come in August so we were going to try to schedule then, but a new job kept them from coming as planned, so we waited again. I knew we were heading into our busy season of hunting camp and then the weather would be changing, so I scheduled and planned to do it with whomever could attend. Having two children out of the house and living on their own makes scheduling difficult but I just decided it had to be done.

Teagan complained. He told me since he didn’t live with us anymore, he should be exempt. You can just imagine the conversation as I told him living on his own didn’t make him any less my kid and that it certainly didn’t make him exempt from family photos. I hoped he’d come but wasn’t holding my breath. A couple of days prior, I texted him and asked if we could go to town to get some new jeans and a nice shirt for pictures. He said he wasn’t gonna make it. I was annoyed and let him know so.

The day of pictures arrived and Teagan showed up at our house. Anthyn, our 14-year-old gave him a hard time as he walked in the door about coming to the house but not coming to pictures. He told us he was there and he was coming, but only for a little bit. I was so grateful that he was doing this and I knew it wasn’t for him. I knew he was only doing this to appease his mother. Little did I know in that moment, that it would be his last precious earthly gift to me. I’ve thanked him many times since, if only in spirit.

It was a Sunday evening. Danner, who is eight, wanted to ride up with Teagan because his truck is cool, ya know. It’s loud, it has a good stereo system and Teagan was the cool big brother. When they got to our destination, Teagan spun a huge, seemingly endless cookie in the pull out and created a huge dust funnel that we couldn’t even see his truck through. So typical Teagan. We all rolled our eyes and talked about what a dusty mess those two boys were gonna be when they got out of the truck.

The photographer arrives and Bowen, the four-year-old, is asleep. He’s NOT happy about being woken up from the backseat and is not wanting to cooperate at all. It takes a good 10 or 15 minutes to get him happy. Janna, our amazing, patient, photographer handles this amazingly and is so happy and helpful. Inside, I’m dying. I know if I show frustration, my attitude will ruin the whole opportunity. I just encourage her to take pictures even with his head in his hands. I’m internally panicking because I know Teagan won’t last long and I won’t have another opportunity for months. I just know that even if they aren’t perfect pictures, they will be real, honest and authentic and I just want something. So onward we push.

She does some breakoffs to give Bowen some time to warm up. At some point, Teagan tells us he’s not doing individuals and I better not post any pictures of him anywhere. Janna just starts snapping. He tells her he’s about to give her the bird and she laughs and says it wouldn’t be the first time. LOL! You’re either completely offended by Teagan in his moments like this, or you think he’s funny. She handled his mood like a dream. She teased and told him to kiss his mother. I kissed him instead and then we looked at her and she got the shot with his arm around me and him glaring. Do you know what a GIFT this photo is to me? What an absolute GIFT all of these photos are to me? Teagan did leave early, so he’s not in all of the photo’s but he was there for most of the shoot. They were taken just over 24 hours before Teagan left this earth. Could that be any more amazing and wonderful? I don’t believe this was a coincidence. I don’t believe this happened by chance. Heavenly Father knew that my world would soon been shattered and He orchestrated all of this as Teagan’s gift to me. To us. These pictures. These people. My only regret is that Justin and Taylor weren’t here. That would have made them completely and totally perfect.

But this is a miracle in my book. An amazing, cherished miracle. These pictures are as recent as I could ask for. The experience was a fun, memorable experience. It was real. It was messy. It was us. It’s the last experience and memory we have as a family. It’s the last happy, positive memory I have with Teagan. It’s a miracle. It’s a beautiful, tender mercy in the midst of despair and sorrow and brokenness and I am forever grateful.

2 responses to “The Family Picture Miracle”

  1. We too list our 16 year old to suicide this June. He would have been 17 in August. This isn’t what I expected either. I only thought tragedies like this only happened to other families. I know that sound cruel but losing our son this way has been heartbreaking. I no longer will ever be the same person.

  2. Oh amber. I am so lucky to know you. You constantly teach me things. I look up to you much!!!

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