On Saint Patrick’s Day, my family lost a beloved family member that seemed to be the glue that held us all together. The grieving process kicked into full force and by the day of his services on March 27th, I was at the height of my mourning of his loss. The world around me seemed to be in agreement that these were turbulent times and the weather waged a war on the North State. It rained hard and long in the days leading up to and during the morning of our final goodbye.
The day of celebration started somberly with a service held at St. John’s The Baptist Catholic Church near the heart of Chico. The gloom over my heart was mirrored in the rain that poured down and fell on my face, mixing with the tears of sorrow. It felt fitting. There was a cleansing taking place in that rain. Umbrellas have never appealed to me and I chose to soak in the precipitation as it landed on my hair, face, and shoulders during my solo walk back to my car. I walked slowly down the blocks surrounding the Chico State campus, allowing the grief and loss to swallow me.
The graveside services were beautiful. As family huddled together against the rain and wind, we experienced something spectacular. Stan had served in the Navy as a young man. Veterans were there to fold and offer the flag to his daughters. A gun salute was witnessed as a final thank you for his service. It was time for him to be lowered into his final resting place. As this preparation took place, the sky opened up and sunshine poured onto his casket and family. It was unexpected and the timing was incredible. After days of rain and wind, we all turned our faces to the sun to bask in its love and warmth. It made me smile a knowing grin. I was left with gratitude and joy in that moment.
Up until this loss, I had never realized how often I have found ways to distract and numb myself through these hardships of life. In this past year, I have gained an awareness. Fully understanding that the distractions and numbing only cause the pain and suffering to leak out in other destructive ways. I came into it with a full acceptance. There was no shame in my tears. I hugged and spoke words of love to get through it with all the people around me who were suffering in the same manner.
At the reception, there were beautiful smiles; a mariachi band for dancing and remembering; a life’s collection of photos taken by (and of) our beloved Stanley; and so much more joy than I could have anticipated. It was a rollercoaster of emotions. I held on for dear life and sanity through the highs and lows. The irony of how his loss tied me tightly to his commitment to keep family bonded, through traditions such as Easter at Durham Park, was not lost on me. I may not be enjoying a bowl of menudo prepared and served by him this year, but he will be there in spirit and memory as I attend for the first time in over 20 years this Easter.
Leaving the reception, I was swept up in the joy of the day and not wanting that feeling to leave me yet or start the drive home alone, I expressed an interest in capturing the beauty of the day. Between tax season, a huge snow season in the mountains, and other commitments, I’ve gone through a bit of a dry spell with my photography. Luckily for me, I have a gorgeous sister and niece who adore being outdoors as much as I do. So they threw a couple of dresses on and we went on an adventure. The light floored me. Their love warmed me. And the rainbow that appeared was the last bit of magic to top off a day I will never forget.
For a view of the full gallery, please visit https://clients.jmcphotographyca.com/motherhood. Enjoy!