Take a family photo, you never know when it will be your last.

21 September 2015

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Its taken some time for me to gather my words on this topic, as our family was recently struck with tragedy.  A hole that will never be filled, a pain in our hearts that will never be dulled.  Nicole was only 24 when she was stripped from her life, our lives, our childrens’ lives.  Each labor day weekend we celebrate at our family lake house, and this year was especially amazing because our whole Harris family was there.  All too often someone cant make it, arrives late, leaves early, and we’re too busy or too forgetful to get a family photo.  This year, the stars aligned and we were all in the same place at the same time, and with my incessant picture taking and Ambers insane obsession with getting a family photo, it happened, this shot:

20150907-183019-HarrisI never imagined when I first posted this to Facebook the imprint it would leave on our lives.  Our last family photo, less than 4 days before Nicole died.  I have too much (and yet not enough) to say about Nicole, her radiant personality, and the sparkle she brought to our family and while I’ve tried a hundred times already, I still cant seem to get the words perfect enough.  What I’d like to stress to you tonight is to get up, and take a family photo.  Right now.  No matter what you look like, you’ll cherish these moments the most- the moments you and your family were together.

I’ve learned a lot by being a Harris.  Courage, Aspiration, Positivity, Acceptance, Grace, Resilience and so much more.  This past week was certainly one of the toughest weeks in my life, but knowing that we have each other is what will keep our family going.

We had lots of snuggles. Lots and Lots of snuggles.

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Even Harley was sad.

20150914-143508-HarrisYou feel the pain in your heart and you can’t imagine anything worse, until you see a parent make the funeral arrangements for their child.  That right there is crushing.

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We saw childhood pictures and notes from Nicole.

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The kids played, they didn’t really understand much of what was going on.  Other than a lot of crying.

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Except Lily, she had it a bit tougher.

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And because Nicole would have wanted us to, we took a lot of selfies and family photos.  Check out these handsome gents, 4 generations strong.

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We sent the big kids off to school.

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And then because it was Blake’s birthday on Wednesday, we celebrated with some extreme go-karting.

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And hit up the arcade. I think daddy had more fun than the kids.

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Having such an amazing family and such happy kids surrounding us made this time a lot more bearable.  I cant help but see Nicole in everything that we do.  She will be missed.  Her fun spirit and desire for adventure will live on for generations.

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While it wasn’t the most extravagant birthday, Blake got to celebrate with a few of his most favorite people on the planet.  I even allowed myself to get in a few photos this weekend, certainly a rarity.

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I promised Nicole that I would take a family photo each time we get together, with any group, so that we can remember everyone who was present.  It’s so important to document this because you don’t realize how much you wish you had, until it’s too late.   Nicole would have loved go-karting with the kids so in her honor, we all posed with the token “Nicole Lips” for this shot.  We love you Nicole, “T-Cole” “NaDole.”  You will be forever in our hearts.

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