I think it's important to spend time looking at photographs and trying to deliberately acknowledge "the end of an era." Because while life is virtually impossible to capture in a jar and there isn't a photograph, anecdote, or journal entry that can take you back to exactly "how it was," remembering has a purpose. It may be a sweeter, romanticized version of what The Real Thing felt like, but that's all we have left. And if we don't take time to be still and think about what it was like back then, what it was like to have our little girl starting first grade, we forget what it is that we hoped to take with us.
What do we hope to take with us?
Memory snapshots of tooth-less grins?
Quirky behaviors or phrases that they have long since out grown?
A general feeling that there was something lovable about that child during that phase of life?
A sense of accomplishment, as in we started there and now look where we are!
A better understanding of what really mattered?
Katherine's adorable little baby teeth are gone and a couple of unseemly buck teeth have taken over. All those frustrating afternoons with her curled in my lap trying to sound out the word the over and over again like a wicked stutter have gone the way of the wind. She now knows the word the because she is a reader, and these past couple of days she announces to everyone she meets that she is a second grader! And since we can't go back, I feel buckets of gratitude for the way a class slideshow allowed me to return to those places for a few minutes. Re-visiting helps. It allowed me to re-pack my suitcase of what I'm taking with me, and as I set the table for our end-of-the-school year tea party, I made sure my camera was charged and waiting. There are more happy times to gather along the way.