Have you ever doubted yourself??
For years I thought I was sure of my 'purpose' in life.
I knew exactly what I was supposed to do.
Then, like most artist, I began to doubt myself.
The biggest rut you will constantly be in.
Always trying to make a change.
My 'mission' was no longer clear. I was confused.
What was the point? Was I just another Photographer with fancy gear? What was my purpose? Is this really what I am supposed to do??
For me, being a Photographer was not a job it was more of..... more of a hobby that allowed me to save lifes moments in an artistic way that would capture not only the appearance, but the personality & the beautiful soul of someone. It didn't matter to me if I was 'professional' enough to make the cut.
I wanted to convey a message.
I wanted to tell a story for everyone.
When I was younger my camera was a fav of mine, but even earlier in my life I found my art with a simple piece of paper & pen & I don't mean drawing, a stick figure is about the best I can do.
6 months ago I was shooting along side my sister-in-law in Oklahoma. In the middle of one of our session's, my phone started to ring. My cell is usally on silent & I never answer it during a session, I picked it up anyway. I heard a familiar voice on the other end with the most heart wrenching news. My sister-in-law & I continued our day with our hearts heavy, but we both knew that we couldn't lose focus.
It was later that day on my drive to Missouri I realized that my mission was clear.
Grab a cup of coffee. Here is my story.
In that final moment it seemed like it would last forever.
I hoped it would last forever. Hoped that she would open her eyes, gasp for a breath and start breathing on her own again. Look around and see us all surrounded there and smile. Instead the seconds ticked by as I kept watching the clock. I watched the monitors as her levels dropped. Holding onto hope when they would steady and at times rise. My tears turned to sobs as I would try to hold my breath to hold back. I buried my face into my Husband shoulder and held on tight as I tried to comprehend that in that moment, Patty was gone forever. My nerves overwhelmed me and a nurse kindly guided me to the bathroom where I felt my stomach in knots and could no longer contain my sickness.
I fell to the floor and leaned against the wall replaying the last
5 minutes in my head and the tears poured like rain.
I opened the door and there stood my husband waiting for me, I was so glad to see that he was there because the walk back to those four walls where I left part of my heart would seem like miles. That night getting back to where we would sleep was such a long drive even though it wasn't far. My thoughts consumed me still trying to comprehend everything.
The next day we drove home and the 3 hour drive seemed like a dream. I spent most of my time reminiscing over the good times and it made me smile yet my heart still ached. The next day I found it very hard to function, simple things seemed impossible. My thoughts paralyzed me. I drowned my heart in alcohol that night and then gave my mind a rest. The next morning was consumed with packing and finding the perfect clothes to wear that Patty would have loved. It poured rain nearly the whole trip back to Missorui. At times my heart would ache and my mind would race
but even witnessing her passing on wasn't real.
I still had hope.
That night I tossed and turned and woke early before everyone else, made a pot of coffee and wrote my speech for the funeral. My hands trembled and my eyes watered as I read it over and over trying to prepare myself for reading it to my family while we surrounded Patty. The rest of the morning was hectic and seemed to pass by quickly. We arrived at the funeral home just before 1:00. Our family gathered around, shared hugs and tears. Most of us had very little to say but the blank stares said so much. More folks showed to pay their respects.
There was a moment when it felt like such a blessing to have children there because they consumed my mind and distracted from my somber thinking.
We all gathered around Patty one family at a time and gazed at her perfect being who looked so peaceful and no longer suffering. My emotions were missing. At one point I felt a sense of relief. Like she was watching us all. There was a lump in my throat as I hugged my children and explained that granny was now with God.
My Daughter, nearly 2, had a single dandelion in her hand and
her sweet little voice spoke to tell me she wanted to give it to Granny.
I leaned her close and she placed it on Granny's heart. My father in law later placed it in Patty's hand. My eyes swelled up with tears. I looked at my husband and gave him a hug. Time froze as we were waiting for the service to start. It was like I was in a dream watching the adults, they seemed to be standing still as the grandchildren seemed to run in circles around them laughing and smiling. In the corner my father in law sat quietly staring at his sweet love laying there so peacefully. The service people began speaking and then it was my turn. I was walking quickly to the podium, but my legs seemed to feel so heavy. I sat my paper down and my hands began to shake. I scanned the room briefly and my heart began to sink. I spoke as fast as I could as to maybe out speak the tears that I knew were bound to fall & weaken my voice to an unrecognizeable squeak.
In that moment I felt like Patty and I were the only two in the room.
Like old times, she would be so proud of what I put together. The words were coming out but my mind was replaying our times together like a movie. I tried to add humor but no one laughed. I heard sobs from my family and when I was done the room was still the air was thin and as I walked back to my seat I couldn't breathe. My mother was sitting behind me her nose red and her eyes watery. In the corner sat my oldest son who was crying uncontrollably. His heart was broken. He moved to sit by me and whispered: "I don't want you to die Mom."
I had done so good not to cry, I did so good to be strong but, in that moment I felt the tears start to swell up and my heart race again.
I hugged him and brushed his hair with my fingers and whispered that I loved him. The service continued and it seemed like it would never end as I was consoling my son who just realized that we don't live forever. He realized the importance of life.
The service was now over, I was approached by a gentleman who asked if we wanted to say goodbye one more time. I walked up with my children and replayed the word goodbye in my head as we walked the seemingly long stretch to the casket. My son Halen placed 3 dandelions in Granny's hand. Her love of wild flowers was no secret. One at a time we all said goodbye.
They closed the casket and my youngest son yelled: "Where are they taking my Granny??"
I said nothing and pulled his head close to my chest and kissed his forehead.
We arrived at the cemetery and it was so quiet. It seemed as if we were spinning in circles. In that box we call a casket laid one of the most important people in my life. Someone I loved so dearly and she wasn't even blood. Someone I cared so much for, talked to, listened to, enjoyed spending time with. Someone I would no longer be able to see, talk to or hug as we parted. We all went back to my father in laws to eat and celebrate her life. I didn't eat much, it just didn't feel right. My heart sank as I stared at all of the things in the house. The chair she sat in was empty and her last meal was still hanging on the wall, being that she was fed through an IV.
The collage of photos I made for the service stood out so vividly with Patty's photo in the center. We spent a few hours laughing and talking and at one point my father-in-law was saddened, he said it was a shame it took Patty's death to get everyone together. That bothered me so much.
We often get to caught up in life making a living we forget to enjoy our lives.
Patty loved us all. We all meant the world to her. My father-in-law began passing out her angels as she wished to give each one of the girls. I picked out a 3rd one and on the bottom of that angel statue my name was written in her hand writing. That night I laid in bed with my daughter and the tears began to fall. It was dark and quiet and I was left alone with my thoughts. I was filled with anger and guilt and wished I had one more moment. But the reality was so harsh and felt like a ton of bricks were caving my chest.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about Patty. Every day that I walk past one of the last photos taken of her at Thanksgiving in 2012, I am reminded that she was so alive in our lives. She was a Beautiful soul.
A simple photograph puts me back to that time & place. Reminds me of what it was like. I can hear her voice. Her sweet laugh.
She never did like her photograph made,
she always had an excuse of why we wouldn't want a photo of her.
Whenever I doubt who I am as a person; as an artist. I am reminded of my purpose. I am reminded that
I am reminded that a photograph is the single most important item you can posess "it is proof that for an instant, everything was perfect."
In Loving Memory of:
Patricia Louise Fish