Since I’ve been home from Colorado, I’ve tried to figure out what to do about photos. The photos we used for the funeral were all recent and all in uniform except one senior picture taken at the end of high school. These funeral pictures sat in the living room for weeks after we buried Jake. I couldn’t bear putting them away, but I also couldn’t bear the daily reminder of what was still so fresh, and then I realized what it was. There are some that only knew Jake a short time. They only knew him as a soldier, but for me he was my infant and child, artist, baseball player, Christian, comedian, deep thinker, my snuggler, my “mini-me”, and as an adult, my friend. Jake was by far one of my favorite people I’ve ever met and I valued every second with him. I realized that these photos reminded me of his one year in the military; of his death. But putting them away felt like a betrayal.
As I perused older photos of Jake, I didn’t have the same feelings. They brought happy memories, memories that were complete, stages of his life that were lived and accomplished. There were no regrets and nothing was left unfinished. The military pictures are a reminder of a stage cut short. A reminder that he is gone and is never coming back to complete this life. A reminder that he is not coming back to be a part of my life that is not yet finished; a life I fully expected him to be a part of. It’s been just over 6 weeks and I keep thinking he’s coming back to finish what he started. I still imagine him coming through the door shouting, “Hey Mom”. I can hear his voice and see his smile, and I still struggle to believe that he only lives in the depths of my memory or in my imagination or both. I hope and pray that the day will come when I know he’s gone and I can still smile at the recent photos of this life cut short. Right now I cannot, so with sadness and guilt I put away these beautiful pictures of a stage in Jake’s life, the last stage that I am so proud of yet so hurt by. I will replace them with photos of stages completed and treasure that we had so many together.