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Saving my snapshot moments

It’s a quiet Sunday afternoon the day after the Fourth of July. My husband, our daughter and I sit down to eat a late lunch together. This is a treat because often my daughter has a different eating schedule, and thanks to autism, it’s a pretty unmovable schedule.

However, today she is opting to eat at the same time we eat, which is nice. We are talking as we taste our food. I cooked a lasagna casserole because I know it is one of my husband’s favorites. Our child has her usual fried chicken legs, grapes and a roll and she is softly jabbering to herself as she starts eating.

As I listen to her voice and look into the faces sitting with me at the table, I know this is a snapshot moment. I have a lot of those stored in my memory and this one joins them.

Let me stop here and explain exactly what I mean by a “snapshot moment.” You see, it occurred to me a while back that life is always changing and all the precious things that are part of that life slip by quickly. So, I like to commit to memory mental pictures of moments before they vanish.

I have so many of these snapshots and they are not of big events or special occasions. They are mostly everyday things that usually pass without much notice.

I did my saving memories unconsciously for a long time. Then one day, I realized what I was doing and why.

It was a spring day a long time ago and I was cleaning the bathroom. I paused to look out the window to check on my children, who were all under the age of six at the time. They were sitting on the ground in front of the garage playing in the sand.

As I watched them scoop up pails of dirt and drive toy trucks around imaginary roads, I thought, “I want to remember this moment forever.” It was such a happy picture and I was overwhelmed with the love I felt for those three perfect little people. That snapshot is as clear in my mind as it was the day I took it.

Oh, and another one I recall is one I wrote a column about once. It was an afternoon – in the fall I think – and I was visiting my parents. As we sat around their kitchen table drinking coffee, I knew it was a time that I would look back on someday when they were gone. I committed to memory the feel of being there with them, laughing talking, just sharing a cup of coffee. I’m so glad I have that snapshot to bring them back to me now when I am sipping my afternoon coffee.

Yes, I have so many snapshots – me singing to my first child in the tiny little bedroom that was barely big enough for her crib and the small rocking chair from my childhood bedroom. There’s the picture of my youngest son sitting on the living room floor reading “Bye, Bye Blankie” to his baby sister. I see my middle son walking toward the lake with a fishing pole slung over his shoulder.

Oh, there’s my husband napping on the couch with our big Siamese cat sleeping on his chest. In another one, we are sitting in my in-law’s house on a Sunday afternoon eating homemade ice cream.

Since I said goodbye to my father, my mother-in-law, my youngest brother and my mother, I’ve realized how really precious the simple moments are in our lives, how they slip in and out before we can catch them for more than a breath.

So, on this quiet Sunday afternoon, I look into the faces of these people I love so much, I listen to their voices and I hold onto these fleeting minutes for as long as I can because I know some day when life changes and rearranges my world, I will treasure them.