Get in the Frame; Always.
My obsession with photography started my sophomore year in high school. A transient wanderlust with a creative heart, I was constantly seeking to immortalize every last second, whether by poetry or film. It wasn't until my sophomore year in college, however, that I truly understood the significance of snapshots, these printed mementos of time-stood-still, until they were one of the only tangible pieces I had left after loss. Scourging through every last negative and countless boxes of undeveloped film, there was only one image at that time that could possibly bring me peace. It was my First Communion, and I, adorned in lace and a flower crown, am standing next to my first "soul-mom," little arms wrapped around her neck and smiling, and she too held tight, smiling in a blue dress and long pearl necklace. I held on to that image, pasted it to walls for years - through cities and temporary homes to lockers and dorm rooms - and yet, in that moment, it vanished. To this day I have never located the replacement, but am thankful that at least for now it is etched into my memory, allowed to conjure forth when I need her strength and comfort.
You see, at eight years old we are anxious to jump in the frame. We don't care if our hair is static or the orange stain around our mouths is prominent from too much Crush; at that age, we live in the moment. At thirty-four, after bearing witness to a recent string of losses, I realize this new generation of technology creating a selfie-obsessed era may be on to something. At the end of the day, there will always be an excuse to avoid the camera - you'll always be five pounds too heavy, your makeup will never be just right, and your socks may never match - but it's not always about you.
The inevitable truth of life is that it ends in death. While the spiritual beliefs of each individual dictates what that afterlife looks like, the indisputable fact is there will still be mourners left behind. In fact, you, in this moment, may be mourning your own loss. What I can tell you, is when you begin the process of shuffling, finding the strength to expand your lungs from one breath to the next while carving memories from endless pools of tears, you don't care about the weight gain or the makeup, or the socks; you simply cling to every last symbol of an existence that is no longer palpable. You want photographs. You want memories. You want those you love to be in the frame. You want endless frames. Be in those frames; always.