Today an exciting milestone has happened for me. One that runs deep, and is stitched with so many remnants of a past life and of every day since that I’ve fought for. Today I was accepted to be a contributor for a major photography agency that works in the book publishing industry. They work with publishing houses all over the world to help them find the perfect photograph or artwork for a particular book cover. I am now one of the photographers that helps to provide those perfect photographs to their clients. In the near future, I may just be able to visit the nearest Barnes and Noble and find my photographs on the cover of beautiful books.
This milestone means so many things to me. I’ve wandered around trying to find a sense of direction ever since Drew died. I’ve tried countless directions with my art… and each one has had a feeling like it just didn’t quite “fit” for me. As I’ve learned, there are about as many different ways to be an artist as their are types of people. But this one – which marries my love of photography and storytelling – feels like a perfect match.
I can’t help but think back… I’ve been picking up a camera and capturing the world as I see it for almost ten years now. The first of those years, was the year Drew and I began dating. It was the year that he bought me my first DSLR camera, excited to see what I would create. In the three short years we had together, he continued to support and foster this direction in my life… buying me nearly all of the lenses and gear that I still use today. He was my photo assistant when I needed a helping hand or some strong arms for carrying ladders and lighting. And sometimes he was just there to observe. I still recall mornings at sunrise on the beach in my hometown when he would just sit back and watch me while I got lost behind the lens, capturing the sun-kissed waves. He loved to watch me seeing the world that way… to see how it lit me up inside.
About a month after he died, I finally picked up my camera for the first time again… and I found a connection to him still there. I felt his support and encouragement inside my heart. And each time since, when I venture out into the world looking for the things I feel called to shoot, I still feel him there, quietly watching me light up.
This new opportunity isn’t just a possibility for career growth… it ties back to my entire experience of living on. Many of the photos that will be going into my collection with them are images I’ve shot in the midst of grief. Almost all will be images I’ve shot since his death – things he never got to see himself, but still helped me to create. Images that are more than just beautiful landscapes or details of flowers, but are in fact small pieces of my own story of living on and striving to create a still beautiful life after losing my best friend.
Now those pieces of me will go on to have new life… to represent someone else’s story in some way. The feeling of that is so exciting, and so deeply meaningful. To know that capturing my life and my journey through photos for all these years has led me here… to an email, in which someone has said to me that they feel my work – and thusly my story – is something they value and want to spread into the world. I cannot imagine a better feeling than to see so much of what I’ve created from this “after” life (and what I will create that is still to come) take on a new life in this way.
This experience reminds me of just how powerful it is to make choices in our lives after loss that bring positive changes. We don’t get to control the fact that losing our partner creates negative changes in our world… but we DO get to control whether this loss creates positive change.
Being mindful of allowing in and creating positive changes from their death gives a way for them to live on in our lives. Whether we are following a dream or trying new things or spreading joy by helping others… creating positive changes post-loss gives us a way to let them keep making our lives beautiful. It means they are still a part of every stitch in this new tapestry we are weaving, day by day, for all of our days.