It’s been 2 months since my last blog post.
That is the longest gap ever in my 10 year career as a photographer. I love writing and sharing images so blogging isn’t a chore to me. I have regularly shared blog posts 2-3 times/week for nearly a decade now so a 2 month hiatus has felt very strange to me. Blogging has been a source of joy for a long time but the last 2 months have been overwhelming.
Can I be real with you?
I rarely (if ever) share personal stories on my blog. I own a wedding photography studio so my job is to share the stories of others through words and photographs. I am the patient observer of wedding days and preserver of happy memories.
But the last 8 weeks of my own life have had their share of tears (and not the happy kind).
In late August, I received the shocking news that my long time friend and mentor, Marvin, had died in a tragic farming accident. He was the farmer who allowed me to capture hundreds of sunflower portrait sessions in the fields his hands tenderly planted for so many summers. We had known one another for 8 years and his wife and daughters were like extended family to me. He let me use his land to grow my company because he knew what it meant to be an entrepreneur. He had started his own farming equipment company in the 90s then sold it 3 years ago. We recognized the same level of hard work and initiative in one another and enjoyed many walks through the fields together over the years. Those endless yellow fields of magnificent flowers will never bloom again. The ones my kiddos grew up playing in every July and I looked forward to from planting day in May on…gone without Marvin there. The news of his death was a gut-wrenching blow and I took a few days off work around Labor Day to grieve with his family and attend the funeral.
On top of this, we both sold a house and bought a house (5 miles away) during the months of August and September. Packing up 13 years of life was also overwhelming. Waves of sadness would hit me as I uncovered secret stashes of toys, dolls and dress up clothes that my now teenage daughters have long forgotten. My heart was both excited for the next chapter of life in a new house but also lingering over the sweet memories in the one we were saying goodbye to.
We had a beach trip to Southport, NC for a family wedding planned and then a rewards trip with my husband’s company in Mexico just last week. We were packing both boxes to move and suitcases to travel…to say that life was chaotic for the last 8 weeks would be a grave understatement.
But, NOTHING, could have prepared me for the loss of my best friend.
If you have ever loved a pet the way I loved my Buddy, you can understand how heavy the grief of losing a pet really is. He was about 11 (not sure because he was a rescue who came to us 6 years ago) and definitely feeling his age. He already had liver cancer, bad arthritis, cataracts and others signs of age before we moved. But every night, despite his own ailments, at the end of a long day, he was ALWAYS the first face to greet me at the door. I’m certain he memorized the sound of my car as it turned into the driveway. He was always there. He was my couch buddy every night whether we were watching TV or I was editing on my laptop, he was truly MY dog.
10 days after the big move to the new house, Buddy misjudged his steps and fell 6 feet off a retaining wall in our backyard. He landed on the concrete below and died in my arms minutes later.
In that moment, life just stopped.
I was literally holding him in my backyard sobbing uncontrollably. My husband was there but there was nothing we could do. I have never cried that much in my entire life. I would pray for strength just to get through just one hour at a time because the ache in my heart was just too great.
We buried him at sunset on September 25, 2017 in a beautiful spot in our new yard. I spent that night laying in his bed, smelling his blanket, holding his collar and wishing a hundred times over to have him back.
Over the 2 weeks now that he has been gone, life has gotten a little better day by day. I cry a little less but I still look for his sweet face every time my key slides in the lock of my door at home. A member of my family is gone.
What a gift he was to me. My Buddy was the kindest, most loyal and gentle dog I’ve ever met. After keeping him just one weekend, my best friend’s boys begged for a dog too and of course, once they found the rescue dog they wanted, they named him Buddy. My sister had said no to a pet for 15 years but she said meeting Buddy changed her into a dog person. They now adore their own Toby and it’s because of the amazing animal my Buddy was.
So, I’m finally back at work churning out wedding galleries and booking more 2018 brides. Hope is gradually replacing those feelings of sadness. I’ll begin posting more regularly again soon but felt an explanation was in order in case you noticed the very uncharacteristic gap in activity.
As a photographer, I immediately sought out photos of Buddy to help my heart grieve. Oh how they have brought me comfort in these 2 weeks. My boy was most certainly handsome, kind and most importantly….loved. I will miss you every day my sweet Buddy. Thank you for the joy, laughter, love and comfort you brought to our family from 2011-2017. You were a Staley through and through.