A black and white photo of a woman holding a camera

The sun was slowly disappearing behind the trees, painted with the most beautiful autumn palette, as the mild air from our Indian summer started flirting with the brisk, fall breeze. The light hit the leaves like a kaleidoscope, showing off its patterns from every twist and turn in the wind. My lukewarm coffee was my last resort before packing up my computer from my favorite café and heading back home for warmth. 

I took out my camera to try and capture this picturesque moment to post on Instagram, but I decided against it. Instead, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and enjoyed the last few minutes of the sun beating on my face. In this perfectly curated Instagram world that we live in, what are the actual stories behind the photographs that we see?

In this perfectly curated Instagram world that we live in, what are the actual stories behind the photographs that we see? 

My sister got married in the summer of 2016. As the biased younger sister that I am, her wedding photos turned out absolutely stunning. A perfect representation of the wildly beautiful decision of two souls agreeing to bear witness to each other’s journey in life. You would never know that our mother was diagnosed with breast cancer only seven months prior. 

Between surgeries, bridal fittings, chemotherapy appointments and wedding planning, I watched my sister and brother-in-law put my mother and family first—over the “biggest day of their lives.” When the wedding day arrived, it wasn’t just a celebration of marriage but of vulnerability, resilience and inspiration. Watching my family on the dance floor—saying goodbye to an unwelcome sickness and embracing growing up and growing old together—was an evident message that was captured perfectly in these photographs.

For our family, these photos are symbolic: a collective celebration of love and faithfulness. Moments of the raw, genuine and contagious feelings of joy and happiness. These photos have taught us to be present, compelling us to embrace what is, not what will be. A reminder of the simple opportunity to live each day aware of what is right in front of us. 

These photos have taught us to be present, compelling us to embrace what is, not what will be.

Our mother, triumphant and healthy, has an altruistic way of moving through this world with integrity and positivity—a chapter from her book I hope to take one day. If we are fortunate, we will live a long life, cherishing the time and memories accumulated in photographs throughout the years. How blessed are we to walk each other home? 

Here’s to the photographs that are worth a thousand words. 

A woman hugging a bride on her wedding dayHow have you learned to appreciate the small moments? Do you think our Instagram, social media-driven culture takes away from being present in small moments?

Image via Darling Issue No. 22

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