The storyteller in me wanted to document every second of the celebration of life. But deep down I knew I was supposed to simply "be present", both for my friend, and also for myself. As a photographer and filmmaker, I often feel the desire to capture life's special moments for others...whether they ask me to or not. Just ask my own family, I rarely go to an event and not have my camera in hand.
Its my gift, its my calling. But a little voice told me, not this time, just be present.
This past weekend, I witnessed my dear sweet friend go through something no parent should ever have to go through. Saying goodbye to her child. As I sat and listened to the pastor speak so eloquently about her short life here on earth, I was reminded of His everlasting love and that her legacy lives on through how she touched so many hearts in two short years here on earth.
The Hawaiian hymns and prayers were so beautiful. I hummed along. The hula dance was absolutely stunning and took my breath away. The remembrances from family were so very touching.
One by one I watched the faces of loved ones as they approached the family to give hugs and pay their respects. The love and sorrow in their eyes was so beautiful to witness.
The floodgate of tears that were welling up in my eyes could have filled a thousand oceans. I bit my tongue to fight back the urge to just let the tears stream down my face. I felt as though I had a thousand pound weight on my shoulders as I tried to hold it all in. I watched my friend as she listened to the eulogy of her two year old daughter. A message no mother should ever have to hear. I then watched her and her husband reluctantly approach the pulpit to speak about their daughter and all the beautiful moments they shared with her during her short 21/2 years here on earth. They were so brave. So strong. I saw the grace of God envelope them as they spoke of her with the purest of love. A love that only a mother or father can understand. A love so deep that it hurts to the core of your being.
The room starting spinning and I realized I just couldn't hold it in any longer and I released an audible gasp that I am convinced everybody in the congregation could hear. I gave myself permission to grieve. To be present. To let my guard down and just be in the moment. Had I been hiding behind my camera like I typically do, I would not have allowed myself to go there. The tears started flowing like a mighty river and after I let them free, I realized that they were not only from grief and loss, but an overwhelming feeling of love in that congregation of family and friends.
I have experienced a lot of love in my lifetime. But never have I felt love in a tangible way. You know the saying "you could cut the tension with a knife"? Well replace the word tension with the word love... there was so much LOVE in that room, I swear I could tangibly feel it, like actually "feel" it, like it was in the air, filling the room. It was warm and cozy like a snuggly blanket on a cool day. It derived from the multitude of people who filled that chapel. And from the shared memories from loved ones. And from the Word that flowed from the lips of the pastor, of which I am convinced was sent directly from heaven to help heal our hearts.