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I’m glad to see October go. It was a hard month, and today is a welcome change. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. There’s still darkness up ahead, but the light is getting brighter and brighter. Let me take you on a little journey…
Ever since I started dating my now husband last year, I hadn’t put a whole lot of time into my business in marketing and social media. I was too busy juggling teaching, swim coaching, and serving the clients that I already had, not to mention spending time on my relationship. Because of that, I didn’t have a whole lot of bookings for the fall. But I was happy because I was in love and carefree.
In June, I attended a Katelyn James workshop and came back excited about the future of my business. I started re-vamping my Instagram and Facebook pages and getting ready for the fall season. In August, I started pursuing wedding photography full time and blogging consistently. I was excited to finally be doing what I loved without anything standing in the way. I’ve been putting in a lot of time and working really hard.
But what happened? Crickets… I had zero photoshoots on my calendar from September 10 to December 16. Not just zero shoots, but zero inquiries. Nothing was coming in. Why??? I felt like I was killing it over here and there was nothing happening. Meanwhile, photographers all over are talking about how October is their busiest month, and they can’t keep up with all of their business. And I’m over here with nothing. I did finally have an engagement shoot for a December bride, and a couple other small shoots. But I just went full time as a wedding photographer and I don’t have any wedding inquiries coming in. So, I put together some family shoots in so that it wouldn’t feel so quiet. But it still wasn’t a lot. I didn’t understand it.
And then there was a saddening accident. On the night of October 4, my grandmother fell and broke her hip. I awoke the next morning to a text from my mom telling me what happened and that she was about to have surgery. I was devastated. You see, my grandmother had advanced dementia. You can’t just go in to a surgery and recover when you have dementia. It affects every part of you, not just your mind. I knew this was going to be hard, but I didn’t know just how hard.
What followed were the hardest few weeks of my life, and, of course, my grandmother’s life. Sometimes she was fine and her normal, sweet, smiling, self. But most of the time she was anxious, sad, worried, confused, in pain, all of it. Why? Because she couldn’t remember what happened, she couldn’t remember why she was in the hospital, she didn’t remember why she was in pain so she wouldn’t ask for medicine, and sometimes she couldn’t remember who any of us were. Sometimes she couldn’t remember that the nurses were there to help her and she thought they were trying to hurt her. I can’t tell you how awful it all was, and I can’t tell you everything that happened. But it was horrible. She needed 24/7 supervision, and seeing her so broken, frustrated, confused, and frightened was heartbreaking.
My dad works, my aunt works, and my mom has my other grandmother to take care of and my sister to take where she needs to go. So I sat with her a lot. I would reassure her that it was going to be okay, I would hold her hand, I would remind her who I was, and her face would light up for a moment. When I wasn’t with her, I was thinking about her, praying for her, worried about her, because I knew she was suffering.
After the surgery, she just couldn’t bounce back. She couldn’t get up without being afraid that the nurses were trying to hurt her, and she was just a mess. She wouldn’t eat, which is ultimately what led to her body shutting down. I knew at my wedding that she wouldn’t have much longer, because that’s what happens when you have dementia. But the trauma of the fall and the surgery sped up the process.
Finally, after 12 days in the hospital, she was able to come home. When she got home, most of the time she couldn’t remember that it was her home, and she kept asking “when can I go home?” We would say “you are home!” and she would look confused. My dad knew before all of us what was really happening, and he asked her doctor if she would be a good candidate for hospice care. The doctor said absolutely.
They moved her to my parents house and the hospice nurses were wonderful. They were able to help calm her down and put her on a pain medicine schedule so that she wouldn’t feel anxious or nervous, and she wouldn’t be in pain. The last week and a half or so was such a blessing. We could see some of her normal personality coming back. She would smile, laugh at jokes, make funny faces. She was able to take visitors and speak to them, even if for a brief moment. Those days were so, so precious.
Remember when I said I wasn’t booking? Now I see what a blessing that was. If I had October weddings, I wouldn’t have been able to help my family so much, and I wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time with my grandmother as I was able to. I wouldn’t have been able to serve my clients well because I would have been distracted. I wouldn’t have had time to mourn.
On October 31, at 3:14AM, my sweet grandmother left this world to be reunited with her husband and her loving Savior. She went peacefully while she was sleeping. We are so grateful that at the end she was resting comfortably.
God gives to each person what they need. I was confused and frustrated before, but now I’m thankful that God didn’t give me any October or November weddings. I am able to be there for my family and spend time with them. Some people seem to have instant success and book 30 weddings per year. It looks like they’re living the dream, and maybe they are. Others of us don’t book more than a dozen weddings per year, maybe less. And you know what? That’s okay too. We are living the dream. It’s your choice to be thankful for it or not.
God determines our path, and no amount of work or complaining on our end can change what He has graciously ordained. Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective. For some people, booking 30 weddings a year is what’s best for them, so He gives that to them. For others, their business can’t seem to get off the ground, maybe because He has something else in store for them. Don’t follow the lie that says you have to be like someone else. Be who God has called you to be, and be thankful for His loving kindness. What seems painful at first may end up being your greatest blessing.
For me, I’m a follower of Christ first, a wife second, a a granddaughter, niece, daughter, and sister third, a friend fourth, and a wedding photographer last. If God gives me 20 weddings or 2 weddings next season, I’ll be thankful and accept that as part of His gracious plan.
My grandmother left a lasting legacy. She was a faithful servant of the Lord, she was kind, compassionate, and always served others, she cared about people first and herself second, and she was always smiling. I want to be like her, and today, that’s what I’m choosing. I’m going to smile because she’s finally seeing her faith realized. I’m going to care more about people than my business, and I’m going to try my best to serve others however God sees fit. Lord, make this a reality for me, because I can’t do it alone.
“When our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Cor 15:54-58, NLT