I want to share something that is very near and dear to my heart. While I live in Austin, Texas; I grew up in a small town just south of Austin called Lockhart. Lots of people know of it … if you know BBQ, you KNOW Lockhart. But Lockhart isn’t just about BBQ. It has this small town charm with a great downtown and more than that, there is a connection that the people share. Most grow up, spending their entire childhood in school with each other. I know I did. I started and finished my grade school days in Lockhart. In today’s world it is rare to stay in one school district your entire childhood life but I did just that and I wasn’t in the minority. With a class of over 250 kids, 90 percent of us have known each other since Kindergarten. Unless you grew up in that kind of environment, you don’t fully understand it.
Now, I’m the first to admit that if it wasn’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t have reconnected with many of the people I went to school with. You grow up and move on. Some stay in the small town and raise their kids, while others run from it and others just walk away for a while planning to and sometimes DO come back. I moved on and didn’t think that much of it but this past year I came to realize just how connected I will always be to the town and the people I grew up with. Why it takes a tragedy to remind us of this, I’ll never know.
One of our own was living in a world none of us would wish on our worst enemy. Her husband was killed in a car accident, leaving his beautiful daughter without her father. A month later my classmate, the mother, was rushed in for emergency surgery where she, herself almost died. This was so hard for me to grasp and come to terms with, I just couldn’t imagine what her daughter was going through, but I also didn’t know how to really reach out to her and offer my help. I did what we all do … I posted a comment on her page offering up my condolences but that isn’t really doing much. My dear classmate reached out to me one day and asked if I would do a session for her daughter. Having lost her husband, she understands the importance of documenting one’s life and I was happy to do that for her. No hesitation on my part. I also needed to do the session as a gift. Being an artist, I also knew that this was a chance for me to use my talents to reach out to a child and try to help her heal. I put together a storyboard that was magical and centered not only around her but this love that was lost. I wanted to honor her father.
What have I taken away from this experience? I still have one solid foot in my hometown and wouldn’t have it any other way. When you grow up in a situation like that, you know what I’m talking about. No matter the distance and time apart, you will always have a bond. So thank you Facebook. No complaints from this user. You helped me to reconnect to some old classmates and to remember that time and distance does not mean complete differences.
And as for Skyler, I hand picked this song just for you sweetheart. Listen to the words and know that you are a beautiful butterfly held captive, small and safe in your cocoon. Go ahead and take your time because time can heal all wounds. “It’s not about your scars, it’s about your heart.”
Deborah Chetwood is an award winning, published photographer in Austin, TX who specializes in stylized children's, senior's and glamour photography. To find out more about the artist click HERE.
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