My blog is typically a very happy little place, full of love and light. I see my clients on their best days, the happiest days. We try to keep our own lives this way too, staying positive, finding beauty in the little things, savoring sweet little moments of happiness. But life is… well, it’s life. It’s never perfect, and it’s always changing. There is sadness and pain, loss and heartbreak. Which makes these moments all the more beautiful, even though they can break our hearts, and bring us to our knees.
A few weeks ago, I was in Minnesota visiting my friends and family. While there, I photographed a family session with our friends Dave and Tiffany, and their children, Max (2) and Ellie (9 months). We were all so glad we were able to work the session into our busy schedules, and that we had such a beautiful day and happy kiddos. You may have seen it on the blog last week. I never, in a million years, thought I’d be following it up with this post, just a week later.
Early this week, Ellie came down with a high fever. They brought her in, but the fever was too much for her, and an infection spread quickly. On Tuesday morning, little Ellie left us on angel’s wings. Their lives turned upside down, Dave and Tiffany held their tiny daughter’s funeral yesterday morning.
Having been out of the country, we had no internet or phone access. We found out as we were going through customs and security in Houston on our way home late Tuesday night. We had a few jumbled voicemails from friends, but none of it made sense. Just as we were passing the phone back and forth trying to decipher the messages, the phone rang. It was Dave, with a tired, cracking voice. He confirmed what we feared. We both let our bags fall to the busy airport hallway floor, and stood still, looking at each other with quivering chins and glassy eyes. Grasping for words, we offered our condolences, asked Dave what we could do, if there was anything they needed. Dave thanked us, his voice cracked again, and he asked if they could get a few images from their session for her casket, and for the service. I said of course, shook my head, and expressed again how glad I was that we made time for the session, especially now. With a deep breath and a heavy sigh he said, that makes a lot of us.
I don’t want to make this into a big “photography is so important” post, but I can’t help but feel the weight. I already know that what I do is important, I was reminded of it last year when my friend Danielle lost her husband. I had done a session with them and their two young girls, and the images that those girls have with their Daddy will be cherished forever. Same here, Dave, Tiff and Max will have this collection of images with Ellie that they will treasure. Something they can look back to when she’s on their minds, something to remind them of the wonderful, happy days they had with her.
As photographers, we need to remember the weight of what we do. We’re not just trying to get the most awesome shot, or that hot new pose, or that sweet new lighting trick. As lifestyle and wedding photographers, we are capturing real life. Real people, real families, real love. We are freezing these fleeting moments, and saving them to be cherished later, for years and generations to come. We’re not just shooting for our blogs, or for facebook, or for that kickass new website template we have our eye on. We are shooting for our clients. We are capturing this moment, this emotion, this family, as it is right now.
Dave, Tiffany and Max, you have been on my mind, and heavy in my heart this week. I have hot tears rolling down my cheeks for you as I type this. We regret that we couldn’t be there for the service, but know that we were with you in spirit. We continue to pray for you and your families, that God will be with you in the days to come.
Ellie, godspeed little angel, and sweet dreams~