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Life sure isn’t boring around here! No matter how much I wish “normal” was a part of my life, God just has other plans!
Last month I had one of the most terrifying moments in my life happen. Something I NEVER thought would ever happen to me happened. I was at my bank when it was robbed at GUNPOINT! No, I am not making that up. I was casually talking to my teller when she froze as she looked over my shoulders and mumbled “not today” as she immediately locked her drawer and (I assume) pushed an alarm under her counter.
I am kinda naive about things so even when I turned and saw the masked man, I didn’t realize, right away, what was going on. No, it wasn’t until I saw the gun as he jumped up on the counter, did I realize he was robbing the bank!! I am not sure how other people would react in this situation (because believe me, what you THINK you would do and what you really would do, are two different things!) but I froze. As he stood up on the counter and held the gun at one of the tellers, I simply froze and waited for him to tell us what to do. I wanted direction! Do I get on the ground? Run? Cower? Give him my purse? Scream? I needed some direction as I simply stood there in disbelief that this was actually happening.
The older ladies around me needed no direction… they ran! Yep- they just booked it right out of the building. I waited a moment or two and when no gunshot or “Freeze, don’t move” was heard, I realized he was allowing them to leave and ran myself.
This happened on a Saturday morning in broad daylight at a prominent bank in a good area.
Things I realized that day…
1. I make a terrible witness!!! I watched the guy leave the building (as I hid in my car on hold with 911) and get in his car and I still couldn’t tell the police what model car or exact clothing he was wearing. (Yes, my Marine husband teased me about that later. He would have figured out the guys shoe size with his skills of observation!) I was just hoping he didn’t see me and shoot me! I was the only one to see him leave, and even the police officer teased me about being a “key witness” who knew very little!
2. There is no such thing as a “safe place” anymore. If people get desperate, even the nicest neighborhood/businesses can be where terrible things happen. We need to remember this and always be prepared and aware of our surroundings. Sadly, more and more people are seeing the line between “right and wrong” disappear… where if it’s RIGHT for you, then it’s not really that wrong. It’s making living in our world a scary place at times. We don’t need to live in fear, but we do need to be aware of our surroundings.
After the bank robbery, my family and I had many talks about “what to do when…” so my children would know when to run, when to fight back, when to get involved and when to get away. We talked about abductions, robberies, fights, hitchhiking and more. I PRAY nothing like that happens to them (or me!) ever (or again) but in the event it does, I want them to know how to best protect themselves!
3. I have never thanked God so much for a “professional thief” before. As I talked with the police and the other witnesses after the fact, we were all amazed at how calm, cool and collected this man was. He didn’t yell, didn’t get upset when we ran out of the building, didn’t act erratically, etc. The police said he was most likely a professional. While that may make it harder for the police to find him and the bank to gets it’s money back, it made ME so thankful. We all made it out safely and no one was hurt. I am thankful for his calm demeanor. We all, including him, walked away that day uninjured and to me, that is more important than the money he stole.
4. Life can be going along “as normal” and BAM it can change in an instant. So much could have gone wrong that day. I could have been shot. I could have had my kids with me and they could have been injured or emotionally scarred. My life COULD have drastically changed that day. That morning MIGHT have been the last time I had ever kissed my husband or children. Our “normal” average life, could have instantly changed without any notice at all.
It made me think my kids and what life without “mom” would look like. Had I hugged them enough, kissed them enough, tucked them in enough, read to them enough? Was I the BEST parent I could be? Would the love and tenderness outlive in their memories over the discipline and yelling? Had they seen me laugh enough? I am so thankful God allowed me to walk away from that scary situation, but the fact remains that no one truly knows how much time you have left.
My profession, photography takes moments and freezes them in time. It is part of why I love so much what I do. It takes the people you love and FREEZES them forever. So that people for generations to come can remember and even get to know, people they love. I hear people all the time talk about the pictures they have of their loved ones.
“I love seeing this image, it reminds me of how much she loved to laugh!”
“She always made this face when she cried!”
“He loved this red shirt so much!”
“Can’t you see how much the baby looks like grandpa in this picture?”
“This was the last time we were all together. Remember how happy grandma was?”
It makes me so sad when people give excuses for not taking family portraits. Yes, we all wish we were a little thinner or less wrinkled or less grey or more photogenic… but YOU are beautiful to your husband or wife, your kids, your future grandkids. Don’t shy away from the camera, embrace it. If, God forbid, you don’t have many tomorrow’s left… don’t you want to leave your loved ones pictures of you smiling and happy? I recently talked to a young man whose mom passed away when he was a child. He has ONE picture of her. ONE. His mental memories of her are there, but he sometimes struggles to remember her smile, her laugh, her hair. Imagine if she had left behind hundreds of pictures. All different smiles… many different captures of her laughing… lots of images to remember and see her beautiful blond hair. His memories of her would be so much more alive and vibrant.
I don’t say all this to drum up business… come to me or go somewhere else. But, please, take portraits with your family. And not always the posed smile at the camera portraits. Interact with your kids, laugh, be silly, show your laugh lines and grey hair. Be you in front of the camera. If you are married, show the love between you and your spouse. Kiss in front of the camera, be silly, LAUGH together. Create some memories not only to be stored in your brain but also be be stored and cherished and HELD in physical form. A picture truly can freeze a moment and capture it forever. It’s a lesson even I had to learn. I take pictures of my kids all the time, but it’s rare for me to take pictures WITH them. After this robbery scare, I asked myself when the last time I had been photographed with my kids. Thankfully, this summer we took some family portraits at the beach during a mini family reunion. I was so thankful because the one prior to that was a few years ago.
The lessons I learned during and after this robbery, are ones we should all remember and work to live out everyday. Make sure you hug more, yell less, say I love you often and worry less about the small things. Hopefully we all live to be 100, but in the event we don’t, make sure you leave behind a life without regrets and lots of happy memories for the ones who love you!