Today was a beautiful, picture perfect day.
A perfect day for Hunter’s Senior pictures. The last “school” pictures that would be made of my baby boy. We are all on quarantine but because we live in what we call God’s Country, we can safely head out for a photo shoot. Our photographer, Haley, is a beautician by trade. Like the rest of the country, she’s forced to stay away from her place of normal business. Luckily for me, and my pocketbook, I was able to snag her and her second talent, photography.
Bright and early, Hunter was gathering his cap and gown, and a few other props that he wanted to use. We even packed a few props that were used in a few secret photos that are going to be absolutely hilarious. I can’t wait to share them at the appropriate time!
Some of the props had a very serious, sentimental tone. My breathe caught when Hunter came out of his room with a cap that was beyond repair, nearly dry-rotted. He also held a very distinct light blue, with dark blue uniform shirt with the City of Lancaster iron on patch on one breast pocket, and the name “Joe” on the other. Hunter wouldn’t let me pack the cap, he was carrying that by hand to ensure it didn’t get messed up or leave his sight.
We met Haley on her property and spent the next hour or two taking some great pictures. Pictures with her horses, on a country road, and in beautiful pastureland. We even did the “Top Secret” photos and laughed and had a good time.
There was one more place on the list that we had to go.
Before you get all judgey and think I’m such a horrible, morbid person…. hear me out. My babies were 7 and 9 when their hero left this earth. They fell asleep in a perfect world and woke up to their mama screaming and the life they had known no longer existed.
Instead of a traditional headstone, I had a custom one made that also doubles as a bench. It’s a place that the boys have went and “smoked” a cigar on Joseph’s birthday. They’ve both went and played guitars and sang songs. It’s a safe place where they’ve gone and shed tears and secrets that I probably don’t know about. I always know when my boys are in serious friendships/relationships because they eventually take them to the bench. Not because daddy is there, but because that’s one of the few physical things they have of him that they can touch, sit on, cry with, etc.. You won’t understand unless you’ve been there.
A few graduation pictures are worthy of the bench. Haley agreed to accompany us. Hunter tenderly placed the beloved cap on the bench, beside his own graduation cap. He pulled out his daddy’s bible, and his PawPaw Chuck’s bible and placed them on the bench. Then he pulled out a Bath & Body Works bottle of lotion and placed it on top of the Bible’s. It’s scent is Cherry Blossom. I had no idea until this morning when we were packing the prop bag that Hunter even still had that. It was his MawMaw Deb’s and something that his aunt Dena had given him when she passed away in 2013. Chuck had given him his bible before he passed away in 2018.
Hunter had his most prized possessions in this whole world sitting on bench in a cemetery. He lost but brought 3 people together today in memory and in spirit. 3 people that he loved dearly, and they loved him just as much.
I held it together until we finished up and Hunter dropped me off at home. Then I cried. I grieved again not for my loss, but that of my boys. Then I thanked God for keeping their hearts full of love. It’s a prayer that God answered for me. I have no doubt that Joseph, Deb, and Chuck all made it to Heaven and would be so proud of their Hunterbug.
I know I am.
I want to encourage all you daddies out there to love your little ones hard and leave a legacy like Jospeh did. There are so many children that don’t even know or have a relationship with their father’s. Shame on you if that’s you. Chase and Hunter have never had to wonder where they stood with their daddy. They knew he loved them more than anything in the world. His boys were the apple of his eyes. I will always be grateful that he gave them that gift and it will last their lifetimes.
God is good. In all things.