When Photos Are All You Have Left

white wall with photos of the family in various photo frames

My work as a professional photo organizer allows me to work closely with families and their precious visual memories. I am granted a window into their lives, a privilege and honor I take seriously.

The recent, horrifying shooting in Texas (and across our country in the last few decades) underscores how precious and fleeting our lives can be. Here one day, gone in a minute.

If you don’t want to read my thoughts on the matter, please feel free to discard this post.

My personal photo collection, as well as my husband’s, is peppered with images and videos of children – from both friends and family. These images inspire a wide range of emotions when I view them. I marvel at how quickly the kids have grown, and just how lucky we are to have them in our lives. I love these photos and cherish all they represent.

But right now, some families are not so lucky. Many are dealing with unimaginable losses. The sort of trauma and hell that no one should ever face – all unleashed by a malignant tsunami of fear, hate and division. And we have some elected officials that refuse to do anything about it.

Life has been hard enough over the last few years, with Covid-19 and its related travails. The pandemic has been especially hard on parents, kids and elders. And through all this, many have turned to their photo collections. Family photos can bring solace and comfort, and they have done so for us personally during this trying time.

But when I think about the anguish of the families who’ve lost loved ones – to Covid, and now, yet again, to predictable and preventable gun violence, my heart breaks all over for them. Their photos may not be a source of joy, too painful to view.  And they may stay that way for months or even years.

It’s easy to feel hopeless in the face of such despair. I certainly do, far too often nowadays. But I cannot stay silent or dwell in anger and sorrow. I will take action, and urge you to do so as well.

Read about history and how we got here. There are many excellent newsletters – I subscribe to Letters from an American. The Brennan Center for Justice is another helpful resource.

Protest and donate to causes and business that value and promote understanding, diversity, healing and unity.

Participate in events that reinforce our shared humanity and connection. Use your voice to raise up others. Use your family photos to reflect, remind and reinforce to yourself and the world what truly matters.

And remember that at the ballot box when you vote.