• Melissa Neeb

Take the Picture!

You know me. The one with the camera always out, enthusiastically urging everyone to huddle up, get in close, and smile. My kids became accustomed to the snap of the camera from babies on, surprised when my best friend came over and wasn't ready at any given moment to take their picture. "You don't have a camera?" they would exclaim in disbelief. Bless their precious, albeit self-absorbed, hearts.

As a avid photographer, I struggled to understand when at family gatherings or outings with friends, someone would refuse to have their picture taken, interjecting "I'm not wearing any makeup!" or "I'm in my work clothes!" or "My hair's a mess!" or the simple yet unarguable,

"Maybe next time."

Years ago, we were visiting my husband's grandparents. It was starting to get dark and we had an almost two hour drive home. Everyone was anxious to hit the road, but I felt compelled (as I often do) to get a photo of my kids with their great-grandparents. It wasn't urgent; they were in fine health. I wanted the picture anyway.

Someone suggested that we do it next time but I didn't want to wait. I sensed some annoyance at my insistence, but everyone complied. Our kids nestled in on the couch in between their great-grandparents and there was some tickling before everyone settled down for a posed shot.

Shortly after, my husband's grandpa took a rapid turn for the worse and passed away.

Another occasion was a Thanksgiving at my grandparents' condo. The guys sat around a card table playing 500. My grandpa loved cards and his card deck was soft as skin from frequent use. My childhood memories are brimming with images of the grown-ups slouched around a white Formica table, playing cards, laughing, and ribbing each other.

I snapped a picture of them, thinking how remarkable it was that they still had the opportunity to do that, even though it was a much rarer sight. That day we felt nostalgic, perhaps urged by some inner foreboding, and discussed making it a more regular thing.

It would be the last picture of my grandpa. He passed away weeks later.

Maybe it's the artist in me, or the empath, but I have always been strangely and securely in tune with life's urgency. I am unapologetic about the endless pictures I take. My eyes are trained on the BIG picture. We don't have unlimited time or even a guarantee of tomorrow.

I urge you. Don't wait until a better time, some unpromised, future occasion. Do it now.

Take the picture.

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