i’m a photographer. i don’t know if you knew this. one of the ways i contribute to our family’s income is by taking pictures. weddings, seniors, that sort of thing.

i have a story about photography, but it is also a story about sky. sky … his name is so perfect. light is essential for photography. light enters our world through the sky. light entered and left and reentered my world through sky. he left to dwell in the skies, but he left behind a gift – he brought back my art of light. his life illuminates our lives; he brings clarity, my window-baby, my sky-baby.

i began taking pictures during a time of private turmoil. the art and practice and study brightened life again, and i took many pictures. it grew; organic photosynthesis; eyes that are hurt see beauty more acutely. i don’t like the phrase “capturing beauty” or “capturing moments” or “capturing memories” or any other forms of photographic imprisonment claimed by camera-people. light doesn’t capture; light frees.

and then, (blasted darkness!), a new camera! it hurts my hand and blinds my eyes. angry, i fight it. it fights back. never go all passive aggressive on the equipment of your trade; inanimate objects always win at passive aggressive. guilt trips don’t work either. an untuned piano cannot be pounded into conformity, and a new camera cannot be resented into compliance.

crabby pregnant lady and new camera and passive aggressive fight and precious little light anywhere … thank goodness we managed to satisfy the clients, but after the last session of fall i put the camera on the shelf and informed it that it would be receiving the silent treatment until next july. i might have called it a rancid demon of darkness and petulant lightsucker. it didn’t even blink. these new digital cameras have no shame.

the baby bag, the mama bag, and the camera bag waited on the green rug in the baby room, collecting dust and anticipation. camera is allowed out on parole for baby-day, for obvious reasons. they wait behind closed nursery door. the baby room is dark.

no contractions counted, the car is gone, the bags wait. then the door opens. tearful aunt bekah collects the mama bag and the baby bag and hesitates.
and the camera bag.

in the hospital they took 26 pictures with this camera. one was of a wall. another of joel’s leg. a few were out of focus. a few were perfectly in focus and nicely composed.

and then they left the 3 of us alone in a hospital room, spending our first last night together. i laid sky in the hospital bassinet next to the bed; closed his mouth, tightened his blankets, arranged his hand under his face.  it was night and dim and shadows and so quiet. joel organized luggage. he picked up the camera to put it in the corner, and i said, wait. let me have that.

i took 10 pictures. 5 were out of focus. 5 were not.

we looked at them 4 days later and gasped, and touched the computer screen, and cried, and looked and looked, and i said, i took pictures of him, i took pictures of sky, i took pictures of my baby, i took pictures of him. he gave me pictures of him. and we couldn’t stop looking at him, radiant sky.

and that camera, the one that made him seen, that uncaptured his light?
i forgave it.

here he is.


5 thoughts on “light”

  1. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful and precious little boy. I too have pictures of our precious John Christopher. Even after almost 21 years I still take them out and gaze at our beautiful son and, like you, wonder what might have been. We share a bitter sweet sorrow Lani and I thank you for expressing your thought so beautifully.

    Love, Jeanie Burgin

  2. his light has been unleashed.
    and God chose you (and a frustrating inanimate object) to do it.
    i will be forever impacted by his light because of what you have done, and continue to do in making him seen.

  3. Thank you for sharing Sky’s story. We, too, have a son waiting for us in heaven, Jordan Christopher, amongst the “great cloud of witnesses” who watch our lives and praise God.

  4. I am moved to tears as I have looked at how you captured Sky in all his beauty and innocence. You are an amazing photographer. But what is even more touching is how you’re unpacking your grief, your hopes, your insights. God is using you in a huge way, to minister to those of use who have either said good-bye to a child prematurely or have walked through dark times with our young one. God bless you, Joel and Lani.

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