I saw a picture I’ve never seen before. My precious Tristan was smiling with a group of friends and I was in the picture too!  Since I am a photographer I have hundreds of pictures of my boy, but each new one I see is like another piece of his life I haven’t lost yet.  I have to pour over every detail like it’s the rarest of gems while my heart gets pummeled from the pain.

But then it occurred to me that there is going to come a day when there is not one new picture of Tristan left. No more pictures to wonder about, enjoy, cling to as glimpses into his life on earth. Will he be more gone, then? I’ve had enough gone!  

It’s almost a trigger for me, thinking of another last. I see myself winding up a string against the tug of a hidden kite, only to have the line go slack.  What happens after I frantically reel in all the string?   Will I just have empty grasping hands? Grabbing at Nothingness? Goneness? Does Tristan just disappear again?

Mothers fight all their lives for their kids not to disappear.

Wasn’t that our biggest fear when they were little, that they would toddle out of our sight and be swept up by a stranger never to be seen again? I think that fear remains dormant and twinges of it resonate when they aren’t here to protect anymore. And now we’re tasked with accepting their disappearance! The exact opposite of what we were never supposed to do! That’s why it’s SO HARD. It’s not a mom thing to do.

God gently brought to mind

As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven,so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust,we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. 

Tristan bore the image of the man of dust for his apportioned days. God’s timing was for him to exchange the one for the other, on February 8, 2020. I can’t wish him back to dust again. Here I am, holding a picture and being sad about the image on it, when Tristan is more alive than ever and bearing the image of Christ, in heaven, right now.   Can you imagine standing next to your child, standing next to Jesus?

I’ll come to the last picture someday. I may be sad about it. But I can think of it as a temporary pause on image-bearing until I see Tristan as he was designed to be. So brilliant, reflecting the glory of God that no camera could capture. Like Moses’s face when he talked with God face to face. Tristan could actually be talking to Moses as I write this.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of all these pictures. They make my heart soar even as they crush me.  I can’t wait until the weight of this life is gone and we can all be together with You. Remind me that what I cling to on this earth is but a dim reflection of what You have stored up for us in heaven. Let that be what keeps me going and not whether I have another picture or piece of Tristan when he was here. God, I only know in part. help me to trust you for what I do not know. Save me from myself. Amen.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 

I Cor. 15:48-49, 1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV