Today would have been Robert’s 46th birthday – it was a year ago today that I published his story for you. I am very thankful that I was able to spend his last birthday with him here in Ecuador, just the two of us. Those few weeks are truly my sweetest memories with him.
At this point, having come full circle beyond a year of his death, I would have kept the memories of this day to myself. But just a few weeks ago, after over a year of waiting and many failed attempts, I finally obtained full closure, after receiving from his best friend the pictures from the slide show presentation that was shown at Robert’s funeral. It was poignant to see so many new photos of him, several that I had taken myself. Most I had viewed briefly at some point on his tablet, but had not seen since. Nearly all the photos were of the last year of his life, following his cancer re-diagnosis – there were just a few that were taken prior to that time. His friend Danny had informed me that Robert insisted that pictures of me be shown at his funeral. Danny’s words were, “He wanted the world to know that you were part of his life!” Other than one photo of his parents, a few of his beloved niece and nephew and a couple of him with Danny, I was the only other person (besides Robert himself) whose photos were included. Since he was such a private person, and really only his mother and Danny even knew about me (and only Danny REALLY knew about me), I considered this a huge honor. The four photos of me were all ones Robert had taken on the cruise. But there is one photo in particular that stands out.
Those who know me, would say I’m not a vain person (I hope). I’m really not big on photos of myself and like most people, only think I take a decent picture once in a blue moon. But this photo Robert took of me honestly has me saying, “Who is that girl?!” It was one of those simple, candid moments. We were on our day trip excursion on the island of St. Maarten, which was the highlight of the cruise for Robert. The cruise and visiting it were his last “bucket list” items. He’d always wanted to go there, since he learned about it in school (a very small island in the Caribbean that is half Dutch and half French, just like the country of Belgium). After our tour, he was on a quest for a souvenir t-shirt. We went into a tourist gift shop at a small indoor shopping mall, where I warned him things would be too pricey. Sure enough, he found a great t-shirt he liked, but did not like the price. However he wanted to remember it, so he asked me to hold it up so he could take a photo. He later cropped it with just my head-shot, and here was the result:
Back home, he sent me a picture showing how he’d framed it next to one of him and put it on the fireplace mantel in their family room. He said, “I gave you a warm spot in the house.”
Despite already having been on a breezy bus ride and walking tour, God graciously allowed me to look “picture perfect” in that simple, cameo moment, and this is the way Robert and all those friends and family who attended his funeral will remember me. Of course, you have to realize that the glowing look and sparkle in my eyes are simply a reflection of looking at the one who was taking the photo. 🙂