When photos take on a new meaning

Yesterday Serge, Ralph and I went and had photos with the lovely Tanya, from Tanya Love Photography. Tanya was our wedding photographer and has been an important part of our journey the last year and a bit.

I have been planning for a few weeks now for us to have some photos taken – I wanted to capture some moments with Ralph when he is still a scrumptious little puppy. However, I only told Serge about the photo shoot a few days before. When I told Serge about the photos, he looked at me with disgust. He didn’t really feel like taking his Saturday afternoon to go and have photos, but I gently reminded Serge about the importance of photos.

I hate having photos taken. I am not into taking ‘selfies’ (hello, double chin!). There is nothing worse than getting a notification on Facebook telling you that you have been tagged in a photo (I don’t think I am alone on this one!). And, you will laugh at this, but I have this irrational fear that I look like a goblin (specifically the goblins from Noddy) in most photos – a big nose and high rosy cheeks.

A fun photo with my sister's children at the wedding.

So, quite simply, I do not enjoy being in front of the camera.

However, this changed pretty much as soon as I was given a terminal diagnosis. Photos took on a whole new meaning. Although, my memory will live on in the hearts of those that I have touched, photos are a physical memory that I can leave Serge, my family and friends.

A photo can take Serge, my family and friends back to a happier time. A photo can be shown to my nieces and nephews on the days when they may not remember their Aunty Emmy’s face. A photo can be shown to my younger niece and nephew in case they don’t grow old enough to remember me. It can be shown to my unborn nieces or nephews.

My newest nephew.

Serge can hold on to our photos together and look at them when he needs reassurance. He can look at our wedding photos and remember how special that day was. He can look at our hilarious photos from our time together and laugh. Serge can choose to show his future wife and children photos of his first wife and tell them why he loved me and how I impacted his life.

My parents and sisters, I am sure, will have photos of me on their walls. Will look at them in fleeting moments and remember the time we had.

For me, a photo ensures that I will be in the daily thoughts of Serge and my family.

So the last year, there has been a new weight to photos. And so, I have made the effort to ensure that photos (that I, on a very superficial level, feel happy about) are taken.

Who are those cuties having a smooch? My friend behind the camera embracing the importance of capturing moments. Cute!

Our wedding photos were an easy example of ensuring that we had beautiful pictures. I remember sitting down with Tanya and my mum and speaking about what I needed from the day. I needed to make sure that certain people have photos with me. A photo that I know they were apprehensive about having, for a lot of people thought that our wedding would possibly the last time they saw me well. There were strict instructions that I have photos with my nieces and nephews, photos with my family (individual and group), and individual photos with my bridesmaids (my sisters and best friends). And, as I have mentioned in a previous post, I planned with Tanya to put a box together of my favourite photos of Serge and I from our wedding. This box would be filled with memories and given to him when time was close. However, this box has been on display since treatment has been going well.

So, I have been making an effort in the last year to embrace being in photos, whether they are an informal iPhone snap or professional photos. This may seem a bit morbid, but it is just one of the many things I need to do to deal with my terminal diagnosis.

A photo taken after a few champagnes on Friday night. 

And a message to my family and friends, just a little bit of early warning whether it is months or years down the track:

When planning a slideshow of photos for my funeral, please do not embarrass me. I will sit down with you when we know time is near and I will be making sure you know what images are a big ‘no’. There is to be no embarrassing photos from school dances (definitely wearing that rainbow dress), no pictures from my ‘larger’ years (year 9 and 10), and please leave photos of my ranga mullet to a minimum. Thanks in advance.