Thursday, August 21, 2014

Losing Photos, and Capturing Memories, in Tuscany

I woke up this morning thinking, “If I was keeping up with my blog, I’d be better equipped to capture some of the special moments from this trip.” 

So, though my entries are sparse lately, there is something I'd like to share... 

As a parent, photos begin to take on a hugely valuable role in vacationing. You spend a small fortune on any given trip with your kids, and you know that - without the help of photography - they will remember little of that excursion. 

(Though it would be equally accurate to say that I may not remember bits and pieces of the trip without those snapshots!)

So photos are a way of capturing special moments in time. And yet, as wonderful as they are, photos are limited in what they can deliver. 

After a long, wonderful dinner with our Italian friends here in Turicchi last night, 8-year-old Lukas came to me just before 11. He began insisting that I follow him around to the dark area at the front of the Tuscan farmhouse. 

“You’re going to be so sad if you don’t see this, Mom.” 

Every grain of me screamed, “It’s late and he needs to go to bed. This is unnecessary.” And I was ridiculously tired. Yet part of me knew that it was important. Less than a minute later, we reached the spot that he wanted to show me. He said, “Listen, you have to here the owl.” Unfortunately, Lukas had heard the owl just before dinner, hours earlier... so he was long gone. But Lukas spotted a deer, and I looked up into the sky, only to see a beautiful, dark canvas, dotted with thousands of little stars. I hugged Lukas tightly and directed his gaze skywards. 

There is no photo for this. 

Nor is there a photo for the moment that Alexander, our “tough boy” gently took my hand at Florence’s Piazzale Michaelangelo, after just having seen me cry for one of the few times in his life. I had had my wallet and iphone stolen. My PHONE! With so many beautiful, precious PHOTOS!!! 

But Alex’s tiny little hand, along with Lukas giant smile and Emma’s sweet, inquisitive voice,

“Mama, ist dein Phone weg? Mama, hat eine Frau es weggenommen?” - “Mama, is your phone gone? Mama, did a lady take it from you?”

...they reminded me of what’s really important in life. 

And what about those moments last year, in this very place, where “strangers”, or people I had known for a few short days, took my children home, fed them dinner, and brought them to bed, while I was delivered to a foreign hospital alone, in an ambulance where no one spoke english? I have no snapshots of this night, but as I sat in a Tuscan hospital, I blindly trusted that my kids were in good hands. Again, no photos.

The most important moments in life are beyond the realm of digital photography. They are intangible. It’s like trying to capture love with a butterfly net. Sometimes memories - with the help of a few written words - are more than enough. 

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying. Ever

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