Isaac and Tripp spent the afternoon circling the driveway once, twice, three times on their Cozy Coupes. I spent the afternoon on the World Wide Web, reeling from the results of a positive pregnancy test and introducing myself to an online group of women who were also expecting their fourth child in November. I could have gotten sucked in to all that (let's face it, I probably did) but I could hear the squeals of laughter outside, so I set the laptop aside, grabbed the camera, and I went outside too.
And I took three photos.
Within hours of capturing this moment I sat with Addie in the emergency room at St. Elizabeth's Hospital listening to a doctor tell us this spike in temperature, this pain in her chest, was nothing more than a viral infection and the only thing to do was go home, wait it out, follow up with a doctor two days later. We followed doctor's orders to a T. We waited. We followed up. We took a second doctor's word. Just give it some time, he said. And 12 days later - twelve. days. later. - she was gone.
And I still can't believe it.
But this post isn't about the events that unfolded over the course of those 12 days (which, believe me, I could go on and on and on about and have, trying to make sense of it all). It isn't about how a perfectly healthy girl - healthy enough to toss around a softball on this day and healthy enough to go on a two-mile bike ride the day before that - had the life shaken right out of her.
It isn't about any of that.
It's about a photograph. This photograph.
I had no idea it would be the last photograph.
If I did, would I have composed it differently? Certainly I would have tried to capture her face. I've spent three years going over the details of that face - the spray of freckles across her nose, the way her teeth stairstepped into a smile, the eyebrows that arched perfectly across her brow. I've committed it all to memory so I will never forget.
And the photo I have - the last photo - doesn't even show that beautiful face.
Because never in a million years could I have dreamed it would be my last.
I counted on so many more.
Her birthday was two weeks away. So was the field trip to the state capital and I was slated to go. I'd submitted my sub request and everything. We were making plans. Surely I would have snapped a photo of Addie and her friends in the Rotunda. And a few days later, a pic of those same friends with Addie front and center snuggled up in sleeping bags for a slumber party on our family room floor.
I'd counted on concerts and pictures of Addie in front of the fireplace, all dressed up and ready to go. I'd look at those photographs years from now, in awe of the little girl she once was and the beautiful woman she'd become. I'd wonder where the time went.
I'd counted on team photos. Twelve girls lined up after a basketball game or volleyball game or softball game. Any game.
I'd counted on vacation pictures. Our family of six lined up in front of the Disney castle. On top of a mountain. At the beach.
I'd counted on first day of school pictures. First day of fifth grade. Sixth. And now, seventh.
I'd counted on selfies. Yes, selfies. A tween mugging for the camera, holding up a peace sign. Pictures where I'd flip through her phone or Instagram page and say, "seriously?" But there is no phone. No Instagram. And sadly, no selfies.
I'd counted on so much.
But never, never this.