I just can’t resist posting a couple of these. Remember Baby Jonah? Well this is how he looks now. Be still my heart.
Remember my beautiful friend Dorothy from this post? Well she has met the love of her life and is getting married! And, lucky for me, I happened to have a trip to St Louis on the calendar just in time for an engagement shoot in Forest Park. It was so fun to see these two having such fun together (and looking fantastic if I do say so myself). Can’t wait to celebrate with the two of you – it’ll be here before we know it!
One of my favorite parts of this job is the families that I get to see multiple times, watching their kids grow up in front of my lens. The S Family is particularly special to me because they were my first paying customers back in St Louis, and moved to Houston around the same time as me. Now I know I would have gotten to see these kiddos whether or not I was photographing them, but it has been a particular privilege to get to capture them on film. We just recently did a little mini session just before this brave family left the country to begin working overseas. If it crosses your mind, please pray for the S Family during this time of transition. Love and miss you guys!
It’s been a few days now since the death of Robin Williams and I have spent those days digging through the layers of my own sadness. As a professional counselor, I am well aware that feeling an emotion does not necessarily equate to understanding that emotion. I feel such sadness about the loss of this man that I never met. And, until today, I was just not sure what that intensity of emotion was all about. Yes I am terribly sad, as I would be about any person leaving this earth too soon. But with Robin, there is more. I benefitted richly from this man my entire life. For 30 years, he has been a constant source of entertainment and laughter. I was 8 years old when Robin taught me to fly, to fight, and to crow as Peter Pan. I was 9 when he brought Disney’s Genie to life, 10 when he dressed up as a nanny for Mrs. Doubtfire AND voiced the wacky bat in Fern Gully (remember that one?). I was 12 when he took care of a couple of kids around my age inside a maniacal, man-eating Jumanji game. And I was 14 when I saw him play a vulnerable, funny, sad, and tough-as-nails therapist in Good Will Hunting (yes, I was too young for that one but really, what are a few f-bombs when you get a story like that – a story of love and loss and brotherhood). For years, Robin Williams has poured into my life. And I never met him. Never knew anything about him, really. I missed those early days, the Mork and Mindy era when his personal demons were more visible. In my child’s mind, he was simply a light source – a never-ending well of energy that could give and give without being exhausted. And without realizing it, I derived great comfort from his constancy. In true egocentric child fashion (and maybe this is just the way we think about celebrities in general) I never saw him as a fallible human being. I chose to bask in his glow without a thought for the light source. And it is that – the looking back, the reassessing, recognizing Robin’s humanity and my naiveté – that has so compounded my sadness over these last few days. He was a human being – a brave human being who fought addiction and mental illness with a smile – but a human being nonetheless, with needs and fears and insecurities.
This feeling that is deeper than sadness is not guilt. I believe that Robin Williams found fulfillment in the joy that he brought to the lives of children like me. Plus I, as a child growing up in central Texas, had no access to this international superstar. I could not have helped him and really had no right to try. He had a family and friends who, from the things that I have read, loved him dearly. No, this feeling is something wider and deeper than guilt. This is a lament of my heart, because the way things are is not the way that they should be. We people are not connected. We crave intimacy but the hunger is never satisfied. So often, we fail to ask for what we need or we fail to give what is needed or (the crux of the issue) we don’t even know what those needs are. In those spaces that are not black and white, where there is no easy answer but things are clearly not right, lament is, in my mind, an appropriate (perhaps the only?) response.
There’s plenty of room for lament right now. Riots and looting and tear gas and rubber bullets abound in St. Louis – a city that I called home until a year ago. Both sides feel unheard, powerless, afraid, and the road to healing is anything but straight. Rockets fly back and forth between Israel and Palestine, fighting an age-old war. Innocent people die and those on the periphery take sides. These are two huge disconnects, breakdowns in human connection, that fill our headlines and our televisions. But we also experience this on a much smaller scale in day-to-day life. Spousal misunderstandings lead to marital tension; teen communication breaks down when their language is totally foreign to their parents; sometimes we don’t even understand what is going on inside ourselves (and if you aren’t connected to you, how will you connect with others?). What’s more, this disconnect is not simply a product of the age we live in. It would be great if we could blame it on technology or selfies or mass media. But this issue of disconnection has been around in one form or another for all of human history. It is nothing new, and we are probably not going to fix it any time soon. And so we lament.
For me, though, there is a spiritual element here. I come from a faith tradition that believes in the restoration of all things, including our relationships. So this lament, this cry of my heart, is a longing for something that is coming. I feel the absence of wholeness because wholeness is what I was intended for and it is also where I am heading. Oddly enough, my own lament is also a reminder to me of my hope. As C.S. Lewis states in Mere Christianity, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” I believe in restoration. I believe that justice and mercy are in the world and will eventually win out. In fact, perhaps my childhood picture of Robin Williams is less a product of my naiveté than of my hope. I saw him fighting for joy and for laughter – not only in his own life but also in mine. And that is not a fool’s errand. Joy will be victorious.
This little fella has been eagerly awaited and even after he was born, Auntie Sarah had to wait 6 weeks to meet him (torture). Let me tell you, he did not disappoint. I am in love with this sweet boy. No surprise, since his mama has been one of my very best friends for the last decade and his daddy is such a good guy. I can’t wait for my next visit – gotta stock up on those Jonah snuggles as often as possible. Thanks for letting me take your picture, friends!
Last weekend I visited St Louis and it was such a sweet time of catching up with friends. I stayed with my lovely friend Dorothy and had the brilliant idea on Sunday to take pictures of her during our walk in the park. Dorothy, being the good sport that she is, went along with the plan and (no surprise) the pictures turned out beautifully. I just cannot resist sharing some of my faves.
I was there too!
I am very happy to be back in my home state of Texas. But to tell the truth, it is hard to be away from my sweet St Louis friends. And it is especially hard to be away from their new babies! I went to the Lou last week so that I could finally meet this precious little guy. No surprise, he is totally adorable. And his parents are doing an awesome job of loving on him. I’ll just have to make frequent trips back to the midwest so that Nathan and I can become best buds 🙂
So, if you can remember back far enough, you will recall that my very first photo shoot on this blog was Baby Ellie at the Botanical Gardens. As symmetry would have it, I just got to photograph Baby Ellie again in what may very well be Sarah Sue Photography’s last photo shoot in St. Louis! Yes, I am moving and will soon be taking pictures in Texas rather than Missouri (so spread the word to your Houston-area friends!). I cannot think of a better final shoot here in the Lou than a beautiful family in a beautiful garden. This shoot just happened to take place on Ellie’s second birthday and… her little brother was able to join in as well! This was my first chance to meet Baby Calvin and he was every bit as sweet as his big sister.
Well, graduation is just around the corner. And I have to say that I was selfishly very excited that my friends Andrew and Melinda wanted to have their engagement session done at our school. It is such a gorgeous campus that holds beautiful memories for those of us that have been there for the last few years. It didn’t hurt that Andrew and Melinda were super fun to photograph – we did lots of laughing which (take note!) leads to lovely and natural smiles. I’m so excited for these two sweet friends to tie the knot!
Ya’ll, I love watching babies grow. And I love being given the opportunity to photograph babies as they get older. Remember baby Caroline from this post? That sweet little bundle is now a totally mobile 9-month-old! I met the D Family at Wash U and we had such fun watching Caroline strike a pose with the flowers and lovely campus buildings. Thanks, D Family, for giving me another chance to enjoy Caroline’s sweet smile 🙂