Please note: This post is one of sadness. If you read, please know that at the end there will be photographs of a select few pages from an album that I recently designed. It was a difficult decision of whether to show some of the images or not. You may choose to skip viewing, but I felt that their inclusion made the story complete.
Sometimes we’re asked to do things that challenge us. Things that take you to a deeper part of yourself. Recently this happened to me.
A woman in our “Mommy And Me” class was pregnant. She has a 2 1/2 year old girl and was having another baby girl due in early February. One of the mom’s from class sent an email the first week of Feb. asking if she had had the baby and how everything was. An email came back that we weren’t expecting. Tragically, she lost the baby the day before her due date. They found nothing wrong, no clear reason why. The doctors told her that 50% of the time that something like this happens, they have no explanation. All of us from the class were shocked and saddened by this news.
My phone rang the Sunday following the news and it was her. Through tears she told me she wanted to ask me something. I remember my brain swirled with questions trying to think of what she could need. Of course, I would say yes to anything and this is where the challenge presented itself. She asked if I would be willing to photograph their last moments with the baby, Zéjah. She and her husband were going to the funeral home one last time and she was hoping I would come too.
When my father was sick and dying back in 1995 I had a clear knowledge that part of my path, one of the reasons that I was here on this earth, was to be there during his transition of life. I felt it inside my deepest core and now, I feel the same way about this experience. Part of the reason I am here now on this planet is so that I could photograph this little girl and help in the healing process of this family.
I asked what they were looking for, what kind of photographs they were hoping I would take. The mom directed me to a site nowilaymedowntosleep.org which is an entire organization dedicated to just this situation. It was founded by a woman who lost her baby and the photographer she asked to photograph their last moments together. It was difficult to look through the site but it definitely helped prepare me for what was ahead.
I prayed constantly throughout this experience. Especially before entering the space to take the photographs. I prayed asking God to be present and for “me” to move out of the way so that His work could be done. I wanted to be sure that what they needed as a family was captured. This moment had nothing to do with me and I was clear about that.
For me the most difficult part of the process wound up not being the act of taking the photographs, it was the post-production, editing and color correcting. Being with the photographs for hours and days later moved me in ways that I think I’m still processing. I feel like this whole experience changed me on a molecular level.
I feel deeply blessed to have been able to give the gift of photographs to this family. When the mom told me that she was going to print some of them for a small album, I asked if I could make the book for her. Since this is what I do, create albums, I felt that it was as important for me to do as it was to take the images.
When I put the book together I emailed Ira from Leather Craftsmen. I asked if they would be willing to donate the album to this family in light of the tragic circumstances. He immediately sent a note back telling me that they absolutely would donate the book. Sometimes it isn’t about the money or the time, it’s about humanity and kindness. About sharing what there is to be shared with the people that need it. I can’t say enough about Ira and Leather Craftsmen and send huge heartfelt Thank You’s to everyone involved in the production of the album. I really can’t thank everyone over there enough.
As difficult as all of this was, I know that it’s a part of life. A part that we sometimes try to ignore. I have been deeply touched and emerged from the experience grateful for the blessings I have. For the health of my children and husband. For my family and friends. I am grateful for being able to share my gifts, the gifts that God has given me. I am grateful for life.