My friend, Jen had a new granddaughter last week and I was so eager to get photos for her. I didn’t want to nag her, “Hurry…they are only this tiny for a short amount of time.” so I waited. I texted her on Friday to find out what was going on. Their new grand daughter had spent her 1 week birthday in the NICU. That is when she told me that she had a metabolic genetic condition and they would have to remove her from life support. My heart was broken for Jen, her daughter and her new husband. For months I had followed the journey of getting married and her pregnancy. The absolute love and joy of watching her daughter go through all these beautiful things made me so happy to be her friend. She’s the example of how much a mother should love her daughter.
On Sunday they called to see if I could capture some pictures for them. Without hesitation I said yes. Afterward I thought back to a foundation that provides this kind of service for the hospitals and I looked it up. It would be hard to do this, but this was for a friend and I was the one they trusted to do this. I could do this. I could be professional and hold it together. So I thought.
I was doing alright until I saw Jen’s husband. This man played hockey with my exboyfriend so I know him from that part of his life. He was always the guy with a smile and a hug. Strong and sweet. This day he was quiet and blank. I wrapped my arms around him and my heart broke again.
We all know that the woman is the strong one in the relationship, but what makes her strong is that love of her husband. I knew my day was going to be much harder than I had expected.
This was uncharted territory for me. I shoot weddings. I see people on what they think is the best day of their lives. I chase crazy brides and i’m the time keeper. I know where to be, where to stand, what direction to give. My eye catches the tags in a dress, stray hairs and distracting back grounds. I capture the first moments of a life time together. Today I was capturing the last.
I began getting shots of baby Clara as she was still on the breathing tubes and then waited until they removed all of them. I soon realized that this was going to be a candid photo shoot. My time there would be spent capturing this time for them.
For two hours I watched the most beautiful show of support and love I have ever witnessed in my entire life. Both parents surrounded by their parents. The way people move and touch during a time of sadness is so profound. People reach for a hand to hold and an shoulder to sink into. Others reach out and touch. Small movements in the exact moments that they are needed.
I watched Jen’s husband gently reach out to support his wife as she had her head on her daughter’s shoulder. Was it to comfort her or to give him support? I don’t know, but I cried watching this happen over and over with 3 different husbands and wives. I observed the way they could all just look at each other and speak without speaking. They were all in different places of pain, yet they all could be strong for each other. Even just writing this makes me cry. Yes, it was horribly sad and yet the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. This little girl has no idea the world she changed in the small amount of time she was here.
She made a strong family stronger and they will set the world on fire with a foundation to bring awareness to this genetic disease so no other family has to go through this.
There was no question as to why I was with my ex for the time we were together. After a break up most people will say, “WHY!!?? Why was this person in my life?!” I am grateful for that time because it brought me to the exact moment I was on Sunday. Without having known him, I wouldn’t have been where I was to provide the only gift I have in this world; photography.
I will keep you posted on the foundation as it starts its journey into this crazy world.