There has been a question that has been on my mind quite a bit this last week. Since loosing Emilie, how have my perspectives changed?
As an avid photographer, I am always striving for that “perfect picture.” In my personal collection, I can tell you which shots had the best lighting, were in focus, and had the best smiles. I know because they are the pictures I put into my girls’ scrapbooks or printed out and put into picture frames.
The “perfect picture” took on new meaning for me as I was going through my pictures this week… Different pictures were standing out to me. Not the perfect ones, but all of the unexpected moments I had accidentally captured. Life is not full of perfect smiles, perfect lighting, and perfect composition. It’s the blurry picture that shows Emilie softly touching her new baby sister and Madeline accidentally hitting Emilie in the face right before I take the shot. It’s those candid moments now that have become so special to me. I am so thankful I didn’t discard them just because they had imperfections. It’s their imperfections that make them perfect.
Emilie always used to battle me when I would ask her to clean her room. I used to get so frustrated with her about how quickly her room would get messy. She would have piles and piles of every little drawing she ever made scattered all over her room. When Emilie left for school the last morning of her life, she had left her room in complete chaos.
It has taken me over two months to finally clean her room. It was hard not to leave it exactly the same as Emilie had left it. But I did it. It is ironic that now I am so glad that she didn’t throw away all her pictures. Her drawings, I am now realizing, were like journal entries for her. Her pictures tell her story. She would draw about what was important to her, what she dreamed of and who she cared about. I am so grateful for them.
However, cleaning her room has left me with an entirely new issue. I walk past that immaculately clean room and I miss the mess. The mess that represented life, creativity and play time. It doesn’t feel the same now. It somehow feels cold to me.
Emilie was an eclectic dresser. She had a style all her own. In her pursuit to always make things look fancier, she usually came out looking a little mixed up. Deep down, I always loved that she was not afraid to be unique.
I went through Emilie’s clothes a few weeks ago, ready to send them to the thrift store. It was emotional, but I felt like I needed to do it. I placed the bags in the hallway, ready to load them into my car. They sat there for days and days, but I still never loaded them up. One day, while walking past them, I saw a piece of fabric sticking out of one of the bags. Instantly a flood of memories came pouring in my mind and in a panic I grabbed the bags of clothes and placed them in my room. I wasn’t ready yet. I still needed those reminders. I never would have guessed they would have meant so much to me.
As a mom, my job is to protect my children. I have drilled my kids on what to do if a stranger talks to them. They know what to do if there is danger…..It is okay to tell anyone no if they try and touch them inappropriately. Don’t touch the stove when it is on. Don’t put a plastic bag on your head. The list of things goes on and on.
I had concerns about Emilie’s school. Many times I noticed the flaws in the protective measures at Sandy Hook. I guess I never said anything about it because I didn’t think it was necessary. My perspective has changed. I feel like there is so much that can be learned from what failed that day. Things that can be changed. If there is one thing that I have learned, it is the value of one child’s life. Since the shooting I can feel something inside of me growing. It’s pulling at me. It’s like I can feel my heart growing in size. I can feel this intense maternal instinct for not just my own children any more….but for all children. Where this will take me, I am not sure yet. But I can’t deny it. I can’t just assume everything will turn out alright anymore. My perspective has changed and I have something to say. More than that, I want the love I know we all have for our children to be put into action. I just hope I can find my voice.