I am a hoarder, I love to keep random items for potential usefulness in the future or nick nacks that remind me of special days or people. As a child I used to fill my pockets with a spectrum of autumnal leaves, which soon turned to mush. Recently I’ve found myself wanting to keep moments, to capture them in little jars and store them pickled on shelves so that I can enjoy them again. I’m afraid of forgetting, of letting go of these times.
It’s fleeting jacaranda season here in Tshwane, when purple clouds of blossom bring fairy-tale magic to the streets, and I want to photograph each individual tree. I know that I can’t preserve those blossoms so I try to grasp hold of the beauty and take it captive through my lens.
I’ve had a little flutter of grief with each set of clothes our wee man has grown out of, each tender baby stage that he’s left behind. Watching him eat his birthday cake (how is he 1 already?), listening to him shout to his friends outside, receiving his blown kisses, I want to grab the moments and store them. I know I’ll forget and that there will be new joys as he grows, but still.
In two months we’ll leave South Africa following God’s gentle whisper that ‘it’s time to go’. These transition days are marked with bittersweet moments, when I simultaneously celebrate the friendships we have here, and anticipate the goodbyes. Our schedule is slowing down, and our next steps back in Scotland are still unclear; this waiting and wondering time is uncomfortable and uncertain. Some days I wish we were boarding the plane already, and other days I never want to leave Sosh. Yet there is an invitation in this season to be present and to treasure the special moments. When I see our wee man playing with his friends, I know their time together is limited.
I long to close my fingers around these moments, but I’m realising that I need to hold my hands open, appreciating the moments in the here and now, as they are, rather than trying (and failing) to store them for the future. They are all gifts: purple trees, watching our wee man grow, friendships forged across differences. Knowing that these times won’t come again reminds me not to take them for granted and challenges me to be fully present.