Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Cemetary

Within the last week, I lost someone dear to me: my great aunt.  It was sudden and unexpected.  We all assumed that despite her being in her early 70’s, she was in good health and doing great.  Also, her father–my great grandfather–will be turning 94 this month, and he is still pretty spry and healthy.  Death certainly seemed far away.

Losing a loved one is difficult.  However, when it sneaks up and steals life suddenly it is even harder.  We are left wondering why and how we couldn’t see it coming,  It is a disconcerting feeling to know that life can be carefree one day and then stolen away the next–all without a warning.

My first reaction was shock.  I needed to know why and how.  I wanted to try to make sense of it all.  However, I noticed that even though everyone else felt the same grief, they didn’t all share my need for answers.  As soon as I expressed those questions, I was met with a dumbfounded response: “But she was old…”  I could hear the implied continuation of that sentence.  But she was old…it was bound to happen eventually.  But she was old…it’s the natural progression of things.

The more I see death the more I realize there is nothing ‘natural’ about it.  It may be the fate of everyone on this earth.  But it’s not ‘natural’–not in the least bit.  Every iota of my being has always told me that death is NOT how it should be.  It isn’t what should be our fate.  Death causes pain, sorrow, separation, devastation, depression, and a myriad of other negative side effects.  Even when an evil person dies we cannot say that that death can have a wonderful effect on this world.  We may be protected from suffering more evil at the hands of this person, but all the best things in life can’t directly come from the end of human life.  So how could something so negative be considered the natural end?

We are meant for so much better.  We are designed for a higher purpose than to simply live and then die.  That is why no matter how old a person is when they pass away I can never shrug it off as normal or simply the natural end to life.  Death is an unwelcome interruption.  It takes us away from family, love, helping others, making a difference, laughter, and joy.  It creates a rift that cannot be healed…at least for now.  It causes wounds and sorrow that usually can’t be healed in this life.

Death reminds me that God didn’t design us to die.  He created us for immortality–to live a joyful and blessed life always.  When we try to accept death as normal and natural, we risk forgetting that.  Death should always be a reminder that this life is temporary.  Death should instill in us the urgency to make the most of our lives.  Life is so fleeting.  It can be gone in an instant, and then we must stand before God to account for how we used our time.

I know I’m not perfect.  In fact, I’m the exact opposite.  I’m horribly flawed.  I can be selfish, rude, and inconsiderate.  I make mistakes and excuses.  And I’m still ashamed of some of the things I’ve done in the past, even though I’ve found forgiveness and tried to grow as an individual.

Still, I want to leave this life behind with as little regrets as possible.  I want to die knowing I did my best and helped leave something good behind.  I want to be so much more than my wrongdoing and mistakes when I take my final breath.  I want to be able to honestly tell God that although I failed so many times, I always got back up and tried to do better.  I want to start the next life knowing that this life was NOT in vain or wasted.

© 2013 Amanda R. Dollak
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Photo: © Amanda R. Dollak 2013

Photo: © Amanda R. Dollak 2013

My family thinks I am crazy . . . NaNoWriMo crazy!  Besides my loving husband, who is very supportive of my dream to be novelist, my family doesn’t get the whole NaNo thing.  All I hear are vague comments like “Oh, that’s nice!” or “Ok, good for you!”  That is until I explain more about NaNo.  And then it goes something like this:

Me: “Yeah, I’m really excited to finally finish a novel!!  I hope I finish by the end of the month so I can win the challenge.”

Other Person: “So, what do you win if you finish?  Are there prizes?  Will they publish your book?”

Me:  “There are no prizes, and they don’t publish your novel.  It’s the experience and knowing that you can do it that are the prizes.”

Other Person: “What a ripoff!”

Well, ok, they don’t exactly say “What a ripoff!” exactly.  But they might as well.  They all get that same look on their faces and/or that same tone in their voices.  They look like I’m nuts–that I’ve finally gone over the deep end.  In their minds, what is the point of working so hard for no prize?  What is the point of practically killing yourself to finish a novel, only to have it still unfinished?

To me, the point is oh, so clear: because competition and necessity breed amazing things!  This competition is just what I needed to make me want to take my novelist dreams seriously.  I’ve had the desire to see my stories published for as long as I can remember.  But here I am, nearing 30, and I still haven’t even finished a single novel?  In fact, I haven’t taken my fiction writing seriously for about 10 years.  Yes, NaNo was exactly what I needed to get out of a rut I’ve been stuck in for FAR too long.  What could be more rewarding or priceless than that?

© Amanda R. Dollak 2013

Photo: Copyright Amanda R. Dollak 20

Photo: Copyright Amanda R. Dollak 2013

Accidental Photo 002

The last accidental photo I shared was a prime example of the fun but mystifying photos tucked away in old rolls of film or dusty SD cards.  We accidentally come across them one day much to our surprise.  Often times we can identify the object or objects in the shot.  Sometimes, we can even pinpoint where the photo was taken.  However, we have little inkling about the when or the how or the why.

With this next accidental photo, though, I can answer every question.  What is it? This is a shot of a branch, obviously.  Where was it taken?  I remember vividly that this was in the backyard of my previous home.  When was it taken? That night I was enjoying a summer marshmallow roast with my kids.  How and why did this shot happen?  My son accidentally dropped my camera onto some melted marshmallow.  The lens cover got stuck partially closed, and I accidentally hit the button while attempting to clean the gooey goodness out of my camera.  Yum, what a delicious memory!

Do you have any accidental photographs that bring back wonderful memories?

Grass Closeup

I know I’m a little strange, but back before I switched to digital photography, I always looked forward to the little unexpected surprises when my photos came back.  The accidental snapshots, the strange orbs or streaks that sometimes appear, and the imperfections caused by an imperfect photographer.  They made taking photos fun and exciting.  You never knew exactly what you were going to get back.

Of course, this uncertainty was usually a bad thing.  There was always the chance you might blow capturing that priceless memory.  Or your thumb might get in the way.  Or you might accidentally cut someone’s head off in the shot.  There wasn’t much trial and error with basic film.

Still, I miss the mystery and the suspense of seeing what would develop from my laid-back photo shoots.  In a way, it felt like painting in the dark, and then waiting for the lights to come on to see the final product.  Even with the imperfections, it’s still a work of art.

That is why I get all excited when I’m cruising through my digital photos and stumble upon accidental photos–you know, the ones that are clearly on your memory card, but you have no clue how they got there.  They are visual proof of what goes on when you might be distracted or someone else is fiddling with your camera.

Today, I thought I’d share with you this accidental closeup of grass.  I’m guessing my daughter took it, but I can’t be certain since she has absolutely no recollection and we all were using my camera that day.  When I came across it tonight I couldn’t help but imagine that this is what our view would be if we were little pixies.  From that tiny perspective, even a nicely trimmed lawn would look like jungle.  Look out; it’s a jungle out there, my friends!