Picking the boys up from Behavior Therapy at the clinic is an Olympic sport. Each boy has a huge collection of data contained in a ginormous binder. Data is collected on their every move and utterance during each 3-hour therapy window. Grey also has a Picture Exchange binder- pictures that help him talk to us. Add to that a back pack with a change of clothes and diapers, a snack sack and my camera and my hands are pretty darn full.
On Thursday we walked to the car after therapy as usual. I set Parker down for a moment so I could unload our things into our car, shaking my arms to bring back feeling after the heavy load. Behavior Therapy has helped Greyson tremendously- he used to run into parking lots and busy traffic- but now he knows to stay close to me. Parker is not there yet- so I am usually holding him too. A second after I put Parker on the ground, he immediately started for the busy street. I had already put the bulk of our stuff in the car but was still holding my camera. I quickly placed it on the sidewalk so I could grab Parker. I got Parker and Greyson safely secured in their car seats and took off for a Doctors appointment for myself. On his way out of town, Michael met me at the doctor to help wrangle the kids during my appointment. The physician office has a huge fish tank and the boys were awestruck. Greyson was a jumping, flapping delight and Parker was talking Minion speak to each fish. Can you grab my camera from the car? I asked Michael. I need to photograph this. Michael returns empty-handed, which is not too shocking- well, you know- because he's a guy. He can't find the juice directly in front of him in the fridge. So I go check, but as I am walking towards the car I have a flashback of placing the camera on the sidewalk in front of my car. I never picked it back up,I thought. My legs buckle and my hands shake. I run back inside and tell Michael. Please! You have to go get it! My camera is gone! Michael took off, called the school and asked them to look, but when he arrived a few minutes later he was told my camera was already gone. No one turned it in.
And it wasn't like I lost a thing, it was like I lost a dear friend. I was blown away by how deeply this struck me, by how shattered I was. I held it together until I got home and I broke into scattered. A new therapist arrived for more therapy for Grey while I went into Parker's room to put him down for a nap. I turned on the white noise machine and I laid on the ground and sobbed. I ached. I put my hands over my face to muffle my cries- pissed that I can't even properly freak out in my own home.
I didn't need for the camera to be gone to appreciate it! I already knew that, God! I quietly yelled. I want it back! Why did I put it down? Why did they take it? Why, why, why?!!! Every day I am so grateful for that camera. It was like my friend or my therapist reminding me every day I could go on. My camera reminded me of the beauty housed in my life, beauty that sometimes in the moment I can't see. I needed that very camera as if my Life depends on it. Sometimes I feel so alone, but I never really was...as long as I had my camera.
I purchased my ridiculously expensive camera and a couple of lenses when I was beginning a career in professional photography, soon after I became a stay at home Mom. I knew I would recoup the money by doing photo shoots, and I adored taking pictures. However, God had another plan for me. I realized I didn't have the time to manage both boys therapy schedules and do photography. I stopped doing photography for others when Parker qualified for Early Intervention. If I do something- I am all in or not at all. And so I manage my boys and pour my love for pictures into this blog.
And the pictures saved me...I can't begin to tell you how often they save me... on the good days and the bad.
On the crushing and terrible days, like the day Greyson was diagnosed with autism.
Here we are on that day, March 13th, 2012. My camera reminded me that I smiled that day. I smiled a few times. I had no idea until I looked back over pictures. My camera is magic.
Most days I look over the pictures from my magic camera and I smile. Horrible days are so much clearer in review.
My camera reminds me that a simple outing to the grocery store is precious and that life is pretty darn good.
And if the pictures are good, that means the moment was good...and if that moment was good... Maybe, just maybe. No. Really?! Maybe my life is good too. My camera reminds me that our moments put together create a good life. My camera allows me to be present in the moment, and also look back after time and experience it all over again. My camera reminds me how far my boys have come. My camera reminds me that life is good, and trust me, there are many days I need that reminder more than I need the Effexor I take.
I couldn't bear someone looking at my boys pictures I had just taken that morning - hard at work during therapy. Sometimes I stay a few extra minutes to help work on their programs or just hang out with them. I didn't want some bad guy to see my boys faces. I didn't want them to see this expensive piece of equipment and just use it as a camera. Something with buttons to be pressed and knobs to be turned-- or something to be pawned. They had my camera and didn't even know how much magic it contained. If they had known, they never would have taken it from me, they would have felt too horrible. And something inside me died, because for the first time in a long time I believed that just maybe in fact, people are not good, and that crushed me.
Michael was gone out of town and I was drained, crushed and without energy that night. My makeup was long ago cried off and my eyes were puffy. I filed a Police report. I looked online and my Camera body has somehow gone up $800. The 24-70mm lens I had on the camera also went up $800 in the past few years. Our insurance deductible was $1000 and I was screwed. There was no way I was paying $2600 out of pocket for something that doesn't profit us. Not when I have two special needs boys who need everything we can give them.
And later that night, long after I had given up hope- Michael got a phone call from the boys school. My camera was found- the Gardner ending up turning it in. I didn't exhale until the next day though when I picked up my baby and held it in my hands. I got into my car and cried pure, straight, salty gratitude.
And today, I took pictures with so much extra joy.
Parker made 1,000 faces. This is his, This is delicious but cold, face.
Exciting, hard, scary, good. Life.
I just love stories with a happy ending.
So much love,