This afternoon the Lino Lakes Elementary school planted a Red Maple tree in Shawn’s honor. Jordan and Madelynn were two of the first “students” to shovel dirt around the base of the tree. It was a beautiful, life-filled event and I was happy to be a part of it. It always feels good to be a part of something beyond myself. I appreciated the honor the school gave my family and enjoyed how welcomed we felt.
After the tree was planted a couple of the firefighters asked me if Jordan could have a ride in the fire engine. This was an unexpected treat. Jordan was delighted by his new opportunity. The corner of his lips turned into a shy smile of independence as he buckled his own seat belt in the seat behind the driver. He then turned to me and instructed, “Mom, seat belt – put on.”
Jordan’s softened expression of amazement warmed my heart as I asked if he liked the ride. He nearly whispered with his silky response, “yeah”. I asked if he liked looking at all the buttons, dials and knobs on the panel in front of us and again he spoke in wonder, “wow”. His favorite part of the ride was hearing the horn sound. He turned to me in amusement and said, “Mom, I hear the horn!”
I had my camera with me and snapped many photos of Jordan and
Madelynn during our fire engine ride around the block. I wanted to
bottle up their smiles and never forget them. It dawned on me during
our excursion that this was the first time I had taken photos since
Shawn died. Until our time in the fire engine, I have not brought my
camera to any holiday gatherings, family events or other ceremonies. I
have relied on relatives to be our photographers. I have not had the
attentiveness to take my own photos. Shawn was my favorite
It has been hard for me to compare my skill with the skill lost in
Shawn’s accomplished talents. I have deeply missed watching him at
work with his camera. This was his art. My talent lied in encouraging
his talent. I was not the photographer. I was his cheerleader. I was
not masterful. I was his assistant. I was not the heartbeat to his
art. I was his eye.
And even though I didn’t know what to expect when I grabbed the
camera this morning in our rush out the door, I found a piece of Shawn
today. And amazingly enough, in the reminder of Shawn’s passion for
taking beautiful photos of the people he loved most; I found a piece of
me. It is as if he came down and said, “Take a little bit of you back,
Jennifer. Find a little piece of you again.” It leaves me in wonder.
Just like my little boy, I can barely whisper, (it’s a silky, soft kind
of whisper), “yeah”.