CORNERS TO KEEP
Whenever Mitch said goodbye - even if only for the day - there was always a strong subtext with him that said, “I can’t wait to see you again.” On this day Natalie was rushing our kids to school and I was able to hug them and then wave goodbye from the driveway. Mitch sat in the passenger seat and looked back at me with his little fingers pressed against the window. His loving expression said, “Dad, I can’t wait to see you again.” As our old, beat-up minivan (a vehicle that sounded like a pirate ship while turning corners and was hanging together by duct tape and a string of luck) drove down the street and out of view I realized at that moment I was so blessed … am so blessed.
I had one of those clarifying moments when you are reminded it isn't the cars we drive or the things we own that are our greatest treasures – but the little people we usher into the world; the children we create and instantly love. That is the greatest treasure of all.
This image reminds me of the importance of minding the corners of life. I wonder how many magic moments I have missed because they happened in the corner of my eye and I wasn't paying attention. But this is what I do know: if I wasn't in this moment with my son this sweet exchange could have passed me by like a speeding bullet.
A few years ago a very large fire threatened to destroy our neighborhood and home. Everyone had evacuated and I chose to stay for a while to document the impending destruction of our home. If it was going to go down, I at least wanted to take photos of it. It was about 2 AM and the fire was raging just a few hundred yards away from my property. Fire fighters were everywhere and combing my back yard to map out their defensive positions. While grateful they were toiling to protect our home, I had become numb to it all – my priorities had changed and I let go of it all.
I walked around my home and took photos of everything. I wasn't interested in our things, none of that mattered to me. Instead, I was more interested in the arrangement of our things. The pile of children’s books in our living room, night stands and drawers that were home to my children’s personal treasures, the careful arrangement of stuffed animals, toys in the bath tub, a large basket filled with Nerf guns, my daughter’s art projects at various stages of completeness – this is what I wanted to capture. I wanted to capture the corners of life we often took for granted or ignored. Suddenly they became the most interesting. Everything I shot told a story about my family and kids – and that was more valuable than the sum total of our stuff.
So on this morning, about a year after the fire, when my wife and kids were speeding off to school, I focused on the corners. And as fate would have it, out of the corner of my eye and in the corner of the car window was my sweet son saying “I can’t wait to see you again.”
With all that I am, I can’t wait to see my son again. And when I do, I will fall upon his neck and kiss him and beg him never to leave me again.
The glass between us has become opaque. And I vow to live a life that, if God allows, the veil between my son and I becomes transparent – if only for a moment – so I can say to him “I can’t wait to see you again.”
And between now and then I have my other children to love and many corners to keep.