This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Love“. The real “challenge” with this theme was try and find something not cliche; something you all would find “novel” and “creative”. As I perused my pictures, though, I fell on this one and all my notions of novelty and “coolness” went out the window. I realized I had a bigger, more important story to tell about love.
I had another client die last week. In my field, this is to be expected now and then, and I’ve had a few of my clients die in the past three years, and even more clients die that I knew from the caseloads of co-workers.
This death this past week has got me thinking about my work, my clients, life, death, and, you know, all those other light and airy topics we so enjoy thinking about (yeah, that was sarcasm). And it got me remembering the photo above.
A couple of years ago, I got this client transferred to me. She had money-spending issues, an anxiety disorder, personality disorder, and a persistent (and strong) delusion that she was (still) the lover of a famous glam-rock star from the eighties (who was now dead, and was gay–neither were facts she could accept).
A lot of these issues stemmed from childhood trauma, mostly surrounding an alcoholic father. She would have flashback of his rages, but still feel a spiritual attachment to his “ghost” that would wake her up at night. He had been as faithful of an Irish Catholic man as he knew how to be, still trying to love his daughters as well as he could, but his alcohol addiction had ended up killing him about 15 years earlier.
Every year, around his birthday, her anxieties from these past traumas would increase greatly. As we talked of ways she could engage these memories and turn them constructive, we came up with an idea: we would visit her father’s grave.
She had refused to go to the funeral at the time, and only had a vague knowledge of where her dad’s grave was. Working together, and calling family members she had not spoken to in years, we eventually found the cemetery where his grave was.
And so, on his birthday, we left the apartment complex she lived in and went to the nearby grocery store. We picked up a birthday cake, balloons, and I got her the roses pictured above to lay at his graveside.
We entered the cemetery and, looking up her father’s gravesite, drove up to its location at the top of a hill that overlooked the distant Philly skyline.
She was scared to get out of the car and approach the grave. We talked about it for a while. She asked if I could take pictures to help her remember this moment, and I snapped the one above. Eventually, she gathered the strength, and with a deep breath, we got out of the car, and found the tombstone itself.
She immediately started crying. I helped her set up a blanket, and we sat on it together. She placed the flowers and balloons at his graveside, and we sang Happy Birthday. She asked for his forgiveness and offered her own. We stayed up there for about an hour, her telling stories and me just listening.
We concluded our time by opening the Book of Common Prayer I had brought and praying these words over his grave, hoping these words of love would rise to both her fathers above, blessing them as they blessed us weary saints below:
Eternal Lord God, you hold all souls in life: Give to your whole Church in paradise and on earth your light and your peace; and grant that we, following the good examples of those who have served you here and are now at rest, may at the last enter with them into your unending joy.
Almighty God, we remember before you today your faithful servant; and we pray that, having opened to him the gates of larger life, you will receive him more and more into your joyful service, that, with all who have faithfully served you in the past, he may share in the eternal victory of Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
See my past Weekly Photo Challenges here.
This is WordPress’ little plug for the Weekly Photo Challenges:
Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in our Weekly Photo Challenge to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in Post a Day / Post a Week. Everyone is welcome to participate, even if your blog isn’t about photography.
Here’s how it works:
1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.
2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.
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