When I was young, I was extremely shy. I cried in my Kindergarten school photo (yes, the yearbook photo). I had one friend who took care of me throughout those younger years in school. If the teacher asked me questions, I would tell my friend the answer and she would tell the teacher for me. I do not remember my time at preschool (then called Playschool), but when I was in college, I took my class photo from play school, and I went back to that old, beautiful white building, to see if my teacher from all those many years ago, was still there. As I walked into the building and back to the playground with the rocketship, someone grabbed the attention of my play school teacher. Pointed her toward where I was walking toward her, and the words out of her mouth shocked me. “Kati!!!” She remembered me!! She remembered ME??!! How in the world, when I probably didn’t speak one word to her waaaaay back when, did she remember who I was?! My mom told me I must’ve made an impression on her.
When I was in high school, I dated a guy who was also a really really close friend of mine when we weren’t dating. He led a rough life, and sadly, was killed in a car accident when we were still teenagers with our entire lives ahead of us. This brought me to the Lord. Sure, I’d “gotten saved” back in VBS when I was 8 or 9, because everyone else was doing it and it just felt good. But having a true understanding of death at a young age, and knowing that I wanted to know where I was going when I die, it was a big life changing event for me, having my friend pass away. Life is short.
When I was in college, I was introduced to another guy who I ended up dating for awhile. Again, we ended up really really close friends when we’d decided not to date. I ended up running off to get engaged to a sales guy from the city, and one morning when I was in Dallas visiting him, I got a phone call that John had been killed in a car accident back home. Gone. So many things never said, so many goodbyes never spoken. Move on, marry, end up miserable and divorced.
My life has tons of happy moments (when I met my now-husband, met my soon-to-be stepson, had children, etc…). These moments also define who I am. The hard ones do not just mean sadness or negativity. They bring realness to the meaning of life. So many want to hide their bad stories and only share the good ones. No one asks you to dwell on the sad times, but do take some time and learn something from them, that’s always a good thing!
In my spare time, I am offering free sessions to police officers families. I, if anyone, know how important a photo is once someone you love is gone from your life. You have one photo and you crumble into a mess of tears when you cannot find that image years after the death of a loved one. So more photos are needed, in my mind! But what’s brought so much more meaning to life for me, while doing these photo sessions, is the stories I’ve been told.
An officer moves slowly while positing with his wife and 5 children, and upon asking why, I learn that he had been hit head-on by a drunk driver and almost killed. Before that, he held a 2 year old baby whose father was drinking and crashed their car, and she died in his arms. Another officer took photos with his new K-9 partner, just recently losing his previous K-9 when someone shot him in the line of duty. If I didn’t ask, I wouldn’t have learned life lessons. I wouldn’t have known what makes them who they are.
So be bold. If someone has one friend and never reaches out to others, approach them. If someone is moving a little slower and looks a little withdrawn, talk to them. And accept it with gentleness when and if they don’t feel up to talking. Say a prayer instead. But think about your life and what makes you who you are. Think about others you come into contact with — they may have a story you don’t know, and it may change how you perceive them.
Tell me, in the comments or message me, what is your story?