Shaping

Our friend is an amazing maker of skateboards and surfboards, and an awesome Dad. He made his sons surfboards and is working on making our boys their own hand shaped boards now. They got to hang out in his backyard workshop and learn about the process, and are so stoked to ride them soon. They went home and drew out designs and I will share photos of the finished product once they are ready to take them out for a session!

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Our summer on 100 rolls of film > real fast with music

 

Jesse likes to ebay. Last summer he bought a box of 100 rolls of 12 exposure expired Fuji Superia. He told me it was a great deal – I thought he was crazy.

I shot all 100 rolls last summer in my Nikon 1 Touch, Jesse and the kids helped. I think Jesse is less crazy for that ebay purchase now.

Our friend Roger scanned all 1200+ images on his fancy scanner machine. He’s amazing, and you can thank him for this video…

I’m really really glad we have these images

Summer 2013 12exp from sharon mckeeman on Vimeo.

Music >>> The Bleeding Heart Show by these guys

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Real Big

Last week I wrote this post about how making pictures was all tied up in my current heartbreak.

But sometimes you just need friends to get out a large format camera and spend lazy hours sitting in the middle of the road, making photos like people did in the old days while kids scooter circles around you. Then you eat pizza and watch them develop twelve sheets of four by five inch film in the kitchen sink, scan and eight hours later stare at bits of magic. That mountain afternoon, my little family growing up, caught so I can’t forget.

Sometimes you just need those same friends to send you a text that says “We’re picture makers… that’s what we do. It just is.”

And that’s enough to put aside all the anger and confusion over babies you can’t hold onto and images you never made, and take some steps back into life. The beautiful mess of life that deserves to be documented. Life filled with kids growing big and strong and friends who laugh troubles away.

Thanks Kaisers and Ellsworths

 

5-17-2014 . my first large format images . crazy camera with a shirt over my head, triX developed in the sink & scanned at home . photo of me by Jesse

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Souvenirs

 

My hands are empty.

There are children running circles round me, but my hands are empty.

I have come to terms with the unthinkable. We have lost again. But is it too much to ask for a souvenir, to want something to grasp and hold tight?

I don’t even have a photograph, and this feels too much to bear.

My belly was growing wide, swelling with life. We bought this shirt on Valentine’s day and I wore it, so proud of how I was filling it’s fullness, cloth draped over the curve of my womb. My roundness, proof that life could begin again, more hope was on the horizon.

But I didn’t take a picture. Me with a pile of cameras and lenses, film and an iPhone, didn’t stop time. I was too busy soaking it all in, too busy just being. More than that though, I thought it would last.

I thought I had more time.

How can you be prepared for the time death comes? How can we live when life hides from sight?

After the silence of that ultrasound came crashing down, after the shaking and the tears, collapsing into nightmare – then I was too afraid to point a camera at the truth. Making an image of my own body felt like a photoshoot in a morgue. So I put my cameras down and held my children. I woke up from surgery and my body was shocking, far too small. All my life I have wanted my stomach to shrink, to stretch flawless and flat, and now I want only too see it round. My arms should be filling out by now, my thighs dimpled with fat, as with each pregnancy. But instead I am deflated, so light I might float away. And this striped shirt that was my glory, now hangs empty on the hanger in my closet. Unbearable – like the too small number on the scale, like my lonely body.

What am I left with? My husband, my children, my God. And Words.

Then all the notes I had taken in those days, the bits of poetry I wrote to cling to while my heart was breaking – they all disappeared, even the backup. All of it, gone, lost.

What a Mother’s Day gift. God can’t I have one bit to hang onto?

I want the world to know our baby. I need Beacon McKeeman to matter. I want to show you that he grew inside me for sixteen weeks of nausea and joy. I want you to see the real weight he carried here, the way he shaped and changed and left my body. I want to read the words I wrote in those moments close to him. But the losing continues and so I search frantic. My hands are empty, what can my feel stand solid upon?

Stumbling I find that I stand now straddling space and time – my heart divided between heaven and earth, the two homes of my children. I wonder, could joy be my souvenir?

We develop rolls of film, I hope for one glimpse of my baby bump. It is miraculously hidden, by chairs and children, not one frame where I can see the silhouette of pregnancy. But these images taken by Jesse on Valentines day before Beacon’s presence was visible growing beneath my breasts – These images paint Beacon concrete right into this world. The joy, the quiet peace I see here in black and white, it is not of me. This joy was Beacon’s gift, my womb swelling full like laughter. Each day I held him inside – joy.

Joy and a peace down deep where I have always tossed like a sleepless child. And I know now this is my souvenir. I can never walk perfect in this skin, but only one story has ever given me hope. Only one God has ever promised me life certain. Only one Human has felt my every painful tear.

In that last meal before death and life eternal He comforted His friends, “Let not your hearts be troubled, Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” And Thomas the doubter like me cries that we do not know the way! How can we make it to this home you offer us? And Joy and Peace, Jesus speaks quiet “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” John 14:1-5

He is the way, and I know Him more now through broken bodies and true life hidden from my eyes. I fall into thankfulness for a home given miraculous. A home beyond where death can steal, a home in which nothing is ever lost. A home I could never build or buy or secure for myself. A home for all my children. I am thankful for pure gift and I rejoice as He takes my fear away.

I can not see anything in my hands, photographs have fallen to the floor, words have fluttered away. Nothing I make can stand. But children dance round me, and the body of Christ, His people that hold onto faith sing with me. Christ’s body broken and filled with life in hundreds and thousands of souls, they have carried us when we could not walk, my hands are not empty they are held tight. Mothers and Fathers, children of our Creator we walk broken together, hoping against all hope for the promise given. Joy, peace, hope, and each other are the souvenirs on this bloody journey to Life.

Thank you to my Father, the Author of this heartbreakingly beautiful story for making me a mother.

I love you with all my heart Jesse, Aaron, David, Joshua, Jeremiah and Beacon.

(These polaroids of our kids were taken by Jaclyn while I was in surgery. When I came home, my heart and body raw and in a million pieces, these photos, flowers and chocolate were beside my bed, and they gave me the hope to rest and wake, get out of bed and keep living life. Thank you more than I can say, dear friend.)

 

 

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The Conquerer

 

He tells me “I’m Arthur King, and you’re mine princess.”

I have been studying the Middle Ages with his brothers, the good, the bad and the ugly. I tell them the truth and I read them mythic tales. What is life without the story? And the little one, still in preschool has soaked it all up. When I thought he was playing with Legos, he was listening. And now he is a brave knight, a legendary king every moment of the day. He dons his cape and armor over pjs, picks up his wooden sword and saves the day. I don’t feel like a princess right now, but he is rescuing me.

The fairytale has grown dim, and my soul is weak. All those things you thought as a child, don’t quite turn out like you hoped.  And then even in the mess of what has come to be, I realize it’s even better than I imagined. I never dreamed this elfin boy, golden hair and magic eyes, never could have written this story with his father and two brothers. I would have left out all the hard parts. I long to hold his brother, but Jeremiah would not live if his brother had not died. But now another precious child of mine is gone, and I just don’t know what to do.

I try to read the Bible. I know it’s my Father’s truth and I cling to the words but they are hard to keep a grasp on. My heart has holes and everything keeps leaking out. Still I read…

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” –  Romans 8:37

I don’t feel anywhere close to conquering, especially not overwhelmingly.

But those words say our Father loves us. Maybe that is enough. I remember reading that in our weakness we are strong. Blessed are the poor and broken.

My three old is weak, he can not slay the dragons stalking us. Yet all his life is story, and so he saves us. Every hour of every day since our baby slipped away and he saw his mommy cry, he has put on shield and cape to battle darkness. He is winning because he still knows simple love and faith.

C. S. Lewis knew of dragons and the magic children wield. I lose myself in his writings as I watch evening light play along the floor.

“That cushiony moss, that coldness and sound and dancing light were no doubt very minor blessing compared with “the means of grace and the hope of glory.” But then they were manifest. So far as they were concerned, sight had replaced faith. They were not the hope of glory, they were an exposition of the glory itself.”

THEY WERE NOT THE HOPE OF GLORY, THEY WERE AN EXPOSITION OF THE GLORY ITSELF

I’m having trouble clinging to hope. But Lewis says that on a walk in the forest, soft moss under his feet, light across a waterfall – these were not just hope, they were our Creator’s glory MANIFEST – our Father’s glory evident, obvious, apparent, readily perceived. An exposition – “an explanation of difficult material” for our eyes that have trouble seeing.

I struggle to look past the questions and the sadness hypothetically. But I can see this golden light dancing, and the magic of three years of bravery with sword and cape. THIS is God’s glory dancing in front of me. CONQUERING. All the darkness, all the pain. Through Him who loved us, Him who is loving us still and always will.

This son dressed as King Arthur is in His Father’s house. He watches morning light dance quiet across the floor, he fights and he conquers. Overwhelming glory itself.

Evidence of what is to come, of what really IS

 

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