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Jacques: Capture your moments with loved ones

In April 2020, my mom turned 70. Because of the pandemic, the celebration we had planned for her got postponed indefinitely. 

That had included getting some family portraits taken by a professional photographer. This is something I’d thought about doing for years, and the milestone birthday made it seem a perfect opportunity. 

Then COVID happened. Not only did it upend the birthday celebration and the photo session, but it also made it much more difficult to simply be together as a family. 

I think this is one of the most devastating impacts of the virus, for myself and so many others. The ease I once felt about traveling around the country to visit my loved ones has disappeared, and this has made the distance between us much more palpable. With virus cases again on the rise this holiday season, and Michigan leading the country in new infections, it feels like a never-ending battle. There’s even a new mask advisory for indoor gatherings. 

My brother and his wife and five amazing children live in Texas, and my parents are in Oregon, where I grew up. 

So it wasn’t until June this year that we finally made those birthday plans for my mom a reality, 14 months later. The last time we were all together was in December 2019 for an early Christmas. We had no idea what was coming. 

Once COVID hit, jumping on a plane wasn’t an appealing prospect to my parents, especially not until they were able to get vaccinated. Even then, it’s a risk they weren’t ready to take, so my parents drove to Texas and made a road trip out of it. 

And we made the photographs a reality. 

The experience itself was fun. The photographer met us at a lush arboretum, and we got to enjoy each others’ company in a beautiful place. 

We now have a set of photos that can take us back to that moment, which somehow eases the physical distance a little. I know I spend a lot of time looking at them.

This spring, we also did a portrait session with my husband’s family along the shore of Lake Michigan to mark my mother-in-law’s 70th. Our cute niece and nephew hammed it up for the camera. 

My husband’s parents and brother all live in Michigan, which makes it easier to get together. But it still seemed important to capture these family memories now. 

After nearly two years of living through a pandemic, I think we’ve all learned that nothing is certain. 

Compared to some, I’ve been pretty lucky. No one in my immediate family has died of COVID. But I know many who have either fought the illness or lost a loved one to it. 

I still feel like COVID has robbed me of things I do love. In nearly two years, I’ve not traveled out of the country. Exploring the world is something I find very meaningful. When my husband and I think about planning a trip, however, it starts to seem overwhelming with all the virus surges, lockdowns and COVID restrictions upon arrival or return. 

What I miss most though are the trips to see family. I have done some flying to Texas and Oregon, but not nearly as frequently as pre-2020. 

With the holidays upon us, I’m grateful for the days I have gotten to spend with my family this year, even if it doesn’t seem like enough. 

And I’ll take some time this Thanksgiving to scroll through my photos.

Twitter: @Ingrid_Jacques