The word is appropriate. My dad, my wife, two of my sons, and myself enjoy photography. A photograph is different from a snapshot. A photograph uses light, subject, film speed, depth of field, foreground, color, subject, and perhaps even the shot tells a story. A snapshot is just that. Something looks good and the picture is just “snapped.”
So with all the enjoyment of photography it is ironic that a snapshot has become a cherished possession. Recently I was gathering up things from the office I would no longer be using. I picked up the snapshot. To anyone else it is just a picture. A picture of myself with my 18 year old son walking along the white sandy beach of Biloxi, Mississippi a year after Katrina took the town off the map. What makes the snapshot so special is two fold and taken together gives me solace.
It was the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, 2006. We hadn’t even planned on going to the beach that day. That morning my wife and I looked at each other and knew we had to get away. So we told the kids we were taking an old fashioned trip, no iPods, Gameboys, PSPs, or DVD players. We would take a trip to the coast with each other and have some fun. So we packed a lunch, loaded the children into the van and hit the road.
We were about 15 minutes into our trip when Kevin’s cell phone rang, or rather his ring tone sounded. It was work wanting to know if he could come in that day. He told them no. I told Kevin we could take the trip on Monday and he could go into work today but he declined. We were on our way.
It was a fun trip. We sang songs, laughed, ate lunch at Sonic because Kevin had a bunch of coupons and he liked eating there. The marquee said, “There are no hurricanes in heaven.” We laughed at that. Got to the beach and chased seagulls. My wife’s camera was passed around as Kevin, Lynda, and I took turns taking pictures of things that interested us. Jelly fish, sand dollars, bird footprints in the sand, a crab. The kids making the gulls fly. Lynda snapped a shot of Kevin and me walking up the beach.
The following Saturday Kevin was fatally injured in an auto accident and passed away from his injuries a few days later. So I look at the snapshot and remember the joy that was my son. A reminder of a trip that almost wasn’t and a captured moment that brings to mind a day of fun. The snapshot is the last picture of Kevin and me together. Solace comes from having no regrets and gratitude for my wife who captures the moments with her ever present camera.
Thoughts of that day bring back good memories. I don’t remember the stories we shared, or the jokes we laughed at. I remember a pleasant day where we rode in the car entertaining ourselves because we sang songs, laughed, and enjoyed a day together with no outside entertainment from DVD’s or electronic games or zoned out in personal space with iPod headphones on tuning out each other. We were all tuned into each other. The memory is special because it was the last trip we ever took with Kevin.
A simple snapshot, a cherished moment, a reminder to live each day by enjoying the moments as they come. Life is a series of moments that are strung together like popcorn on a child’s craft necklace. As I put the snapshot into my box of things to take from my office I smile at the memories and sigh in relief, glad we decided to get away for a day. My snapshot that reminds me, at least for that day, that I have no regrets.
-- Dean C. Rich January 2008
Note: Kevin passed away 5 years ago September 12th. He has been on my mind this last week, as anniversaries tend to do. I read The Dash on The Starving Novelist's blog (Wednesday, September 14, 2011 blog entry) and it reminded me of my late son, so I thought I'd share this. This is one reason I am so passionate about how I spend my time, and remembering what is really important in your life.