The ache of pictures

I have avoided them. Circled them. Refused to dive in since going through them for the memorial service.

Those boxes and books of memories are full of a life cut short. Full of Charles’ life. His beautiful baby pictures with his huge brown eyes.

Sombreros, shark costumes, silly poses, Santa pictures, family pictures, smiles and some of the ones that caught his later episodes of depression. So hard to see a child with such light have a soul eclipsed with such darkness.

I dove in. A local filmmaker is doing a piece on suicide and wanted our story. And pictures of Charles.

So I start with all his little baseball, basketball, soccer and class pictures. I have too few from halloween–his favorite holiday of all.

That hole in my heart aches. I miss him so much but I persevere. It’s been a long time since I have visited these.

I find a few new ones I’d not seen in a long time. A special gift that I get excited about because there will be no new ones. Only those that others might find and share that I didn’t know about. If I’m lucky.

I took a lot of pictures the last few years of his life like a mom possessed. The family would roll their eyes and finally they just got used to it. My asking a stranger to take a picture, then telling my family, “OK, do your silly picture and then we need one your grandmother would love.” They knew the drill.

I’m so thankful I took the time. Thankful that mobile phones have a camera. Thankful I let them do their stupid, silly picture.

Last time I tried to look through them, I just broke down. Fell apart. Dissolved in a pile of pain. But this time, I wore my coat and shoes for a quick escape outside if it became overwhelming.

I cried. I laughed. I smiled. And I cried again. And again. I did escape outside but it was 12 degrees so it was a short stay.

When I resumed, I was reminded of times I had forgotten. Frustrated I couldn’t find pictures I was sure I had. Delighted to find ones that showed how affectionate he was. Sorry that some that would have been great but were too blurry. Entertained by his animated personality staring back at me.

It’s so hard to believe after looking at these pictures that he died by suicide. Those photos don’t give any hint of that final ending. They illustrate a good and happy childhood.

When looking at all of them, one thing’s for sure, we tried to give him the best life we knew how. As much love as we could. I have to be happy with that and the time we had with him.

To those who need it now, don’t let that pilot light of hope burn out

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my youngest son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

7 thoughts on “The ache of pictures”

  1. I’ve always been the annoying person with a camera in everyone’s face. I too have so many old photos. They bring me joy now. Looking at them
    I remember gentler times. I’m so glad you can finally embrace Charles photos. It’s proof that you were a great Mom, gave him so much love and tried your best. Hugs!

  2. Today’s post makes me tear up. Our son, Tyler, left us 12/7/15 but I just can’t bear to go through all the pictures yet. His brothers gathered some portraits for his funeral service. But I’m just not able to see all the baby pics, pre-school & school photos. The memories from every holiday, every school trip I chaperoned, sporting events, orchestra performances. I haven’t been able to bring myself to even read his journals! January 23rd, would have been his 30th birthday but instead it is his 2nd in heaven.

  3. I can so relate. After Daniel passed by overdose, I scrabbled around to gather everything I could find of his because I knew, like you did, that no new photos, poems, stories were coming. I have a collection that I cherish. I regret not taking a picture on the Mothers Day, 3 days before he died. I had thought about it and then forgot.

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