Upon seeing this picture, my first thought (after I'd wiped away the tears that immediately sprang forth and blurred my vision) was, I want to post that picture.
My second thought was, I can't do that. It's too personal and there's too much sorrow wrapped up in it and it's not a pretty picture really.
My third thought was, screw that. Why are we so quick to brush away sadness? Why are we so quick to cover up what might not be beautiful? We do it all the time, especially on social media. We post pictures of delicious food, cute animals, adorable children, ourselves - all made up and ready to party, and gorgeous nature scenes. We post pictures that make reality seem miles better than it often is. Even in speech, it's "Doing well. Life is good. Here's a joke; now laugh."
I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that. I'm all about positive thought and affirmation. I do it all the time, partly because it feels better to be upbeat than to dwell on harsh stuff I can't change, but mostly because I love to make people smile. If I can make 'em laugh... so much the better. But, there are times when reality is right there, front and center, and there's no way to tap dance around it - which brings me back to the picture.
To me, this picture, as difficult as it is for me to look at, is beautiful. The man in the middle is my baby brother, John. He is two and a half years my junior. He's the guy who is responsible for about 80% of the fun in my childhood. He's always been there for me, always loved me, always had a way to pull me up out of a mood. He is a man who has been battling a brain tumor for over two years and is now in hospice care, nearly at the end of that fight. Hence, the sorrow. Hence the unfathomable reason for what feels like a load of bricks sitting on my heart.
Oh, but the beauty in this picture - the sheer love of his wife, Linda, seated at his side, the devotion in the eyes of our big sister, Nancy, peering up from the top, the spirited youth of his eldest son, Garrett. I see so much strength in this picture. I see great love. I see the tremendous spirit of my family, generations of my family, a family that has never backed down when things were tough or taken no for an answer. I see a man who, all his life, gave everything to make sure everyone around him was comfortable and happy, being given back those things in return. Where some might see weakness and (let's just say it) death, I see power.
I cherish this picture because it reminds me how much I love the moments, each of the moments. All of them. All of the moments together, that's who I am. I hope - some very distant day, may it please the gods - when loved ones are sitting at my side as I wander off to some loftier plane... I hope they will see the beauty in that moment and in all the rest of the moments that brought me there.