I take a dozen or more photos nearly every day. Sometimes a hundred in one ordinary day. My reasons are often practical ones like programming buttons on Addie's communication device with photos that have meaning for her. Other times I'm more focused on entertaining her as she visits the photo stream folder on her iPad later - she finds it a delightful surprise to both be reminded of daily occurrences, but also to see herself in them from an angle she didn't have the first time.
I suspect the prevailing reason I take so many photos might have to do with a hoarding instinct. I get to have the moment when it happens and then many times over with a picture. But with the photo, I also have the luxury of savoring tiny details I could never have otherwise seen having lived it only once.
I believe it's a hoarding of time, too. I don't think about it head on much anymore, but I recall the day we understood what Addie's diagnosis was. I read through the symptoms and manifestations in a variety of medical references. So many things rang a bell with our girl we'd known for 2.5 years - the shape of her eyes, the fuzzy swirls of hair on her back, the curved double-wide thumbs, the early trouble nursing and keeping food down, her tiny size and missed milestones. So many things resonated with us it was almost a relief to understand a bit of the "why."
Except for one thing. One nagging short line articulated differently in every journal article and website.
The question of a possible shortened lifespan.
Despite a precarious post-surgery hospital stay in 2008 with everything in the balance, we don't live in this fear daily. She is a healthy, hearty girl who has proven unpredictable in so many other ways. Still, I have long suspected that my nearly compulsive need to photograph every second may have been built slowly as I consulted each description of Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome and found that vaguely worded doubt of longevity in each. The final reference I found preceded by about 24 hours my decision to quit my job of 12 years.
As much as I may have tamped down the impact of that small line, it was a deciding factor in an act that shifted the tides for our family.
And so I have to admit that may be what trips my trigger thumb on my little phonecam with such voracity. I admit it and I leave it there just to be.
It sits there while I focus and frame, snap and review. I don't see it in the photos as they are mostly centered on joy or at least mundane contentment.
In the later evenings after all heads here rest idle on pillows, I spend a little time going through the day's photos, making random decisions about editing, dumping, transferring to Addie's communication device.
There are some that I just keep to keep. I'll look at them from time to time, not really with any specific objective to the review in mind. Most days there are no remarkable pictures. Remarkable to me, that is. And other days there is one, or even two, that scream at me to be looked at, enlarged, reduced, looked at again, maybe shared, maybe not. Looking at them is the thing, analyzing every detail - how the sunlight and shadows tell the time of day, how the grass and leaves tell the time of year, how the cut of the sidewalk and patch of brick wall tells the location, how the clothes tell the relative temperature, how the expression tells what happened moments before or what is anticipated to happen moments after, how the angle tells how near or far I was, whether I was integral to the instant or present as an observer. A nuanced, layered, continuous story in one frame - I can see both history and the future in these rare pictures.
Today I got 3 of them.