33 weeks

Reflections on week 33 …  and life in general:

I threw a fit in the middle of taking these pictures. They weren’t turning out the way my head said they should. Being reunited with Opal after 5 weeks, a swelling baby belly, and the fact that Walker was still here on this earth, I just wanted some fun family photos Sunday afternoon. But Opal wasn’t cooperating. Walker was squinting. I was experiencing flabby arm body image issues. And the sun, the sun we’d been aching to see for weeks, threw me overboard. There was too much light. There were too many shadows. It was too bright or too dark to capture the vision voyaging through my head.

I wanted picture perfect. The picture perfect of the Internet that says these non-professional photos capture our real life in our perfectly curated home and our effortlessly styled outfits. The kind with captions that say it’s been a rough day but here’s a beautiful picture of my family in front of this awesome ivy wall we just happened upon. I wanted that picture perfect. And it just wasn’t happening. But a marital argument, that did start happening.

So into our bedroom I went. I launched (the only word to describe it these days) myself into our bed, on my left side of course, and the waterworks began to make their appearance. Some might contend the tears were only overemotional products of pregnancy hormones, but I must disagree. The door slam, yes, maybe I’ll blame that one on the hormones, but the tears, no. Those tears were tangible reactions to the reality of the weekend. A weekend that loudly proclaimed our life is not picture perfect. A weekend so intertwined with light and shadows that it left me wondering how I could feel so joyous yet so anxious about life at the same time.  Shadows: not so gentle reminders of what’s important.

On Friday around lunchtime Walker called to tell me he had been in a pretty serious accident. As I left my classroom crying, three teachers swiftly ushered me into a private room to collect myself and convince me it was okay to leave school. As I made my way upon the wreckage scene, I saw just what he meant by serious. There was his truck and the path it had clearly taken through two small trees, into a telephone pole and finally into a larger tree. Worse than I had thought, but there stood Walker alive and well and calming to my soul. In that moment, nothing else mattered.Light: an overwhelming burst or a tender glow of what really matters.

The next morning we found ourselves surrounded by friends and family, many who came long distances, to shower us with affection and gifts at our baby shower in Waco. Given by 4 of my closest friends, the shower was Pinterestly decorated and filled with so much love that all we could feel was special. But as I sat there opening generous gift after generous gift, I recognized that more important to me was their presence. It meant more than any gift card or swaddle blanket I received. For me, their generosity came in many forms, but most importantly in the realization that we were surrounded by close to 30 people who chose to dedicate a couple of hours to say ‘I love you’ by simply showing up.It’s so easy to want picture perfect. To desire a life that resembles a grid of dreamily curated Instagram pictures all shot in that golden hour of the setting sun. A life that disguises what it really means to live. Picture perfect tells us that stylish maternity clothes, impeccable nursery decor, scenic backgrounds and exotic travels actually matter. Don’t get me wrong, I love and enjoy beautiful pictures, but we so easily believe that these things are life and so easily forget that each new breath we are able to draw not only gives life but is life.

Our life may not be picture perfect, but it sure is a stunning picture of life. Full of light that lingers even into the shadows. Full of shadows that trickle into the light. A life that constantly reminds us to be thankful for light and for shadows, for without both, neither exists. We must brave the shadows to grasp the joy of the light.  Sometimes it takes a wreck and a baby shower all within 24 hours to remind us that being present in the lives of others and having them present in ours can never be taken for granted. That in all moments, nothing else matters. That reality reveals a more beautiful masterpiece than any edited photo ever could. That abundant life is ultimately revealed through the mingling of life and shadows. May we be have the courage to be witnesses of both. Baby of ours, you’ve been in our lives for 33 weeks. Thank you for being a constant source of light through any shadow that has come our way.

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