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The importance of connections

Our emotional connections in life are what make it so sweet.  When we lose a person who is a vital connection in our life the thing that helps us heal and remember them are the images taken during their life.  Even a blurry bad image becomes a treasure if it contains that person with you.

My friend Brandi of B4 Photography {WebsiteFacebook} marked the first anniversary of her mothers passing from cancer yesterday.  Like me, she isn’t much of a crier.  She cried much of yesterday.

A few months ago I talked to her about doing a guest blog post for me.  My charitable program, Ella’s Touch, provides a session and CD of images for families with an immediate family member who is terminally ill.  Brandi took the time to do a family session with her mother before she passed. Another friend, Melissa Zihlman, of Melissa Zihlman Photography {Website Facebook} took beautiful simple images showing their family connection.  I wanted to share these images along with Brandi’s words here on my blog to inspire others to capture these special family relationships before losing their loved one.

Q: What inspired you to have the session with your mom?

A: Having lost twins in the 5th month of pregnancy, I was led to volunteer for “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”-an organization who gathers photographers around the nation to offer free bereavement photography for babies/children who are terminally ill, dying, and, in some cases, already passed.  I knew how important it was for me to give to these parents because I knew how they felt.  I think that was the first time I ever thought about “what would I do if…”  I just never imagined I would be there again.  Through my work for this organization, I met families who reached out to me with terminally ill moms, dads and grandparents.  I began to gift photo sessions to them as well.  When my mom became terminally ill, it just seemed natural that we would document that last stage of her life just as we did all the other stages of her life.

Q: Was your mom receptive to the session at first?

A: She was.  She admired me for the volunteer work I did.  She thought very highly of me for that.  She knew how important those photos were to those families.  I approached her and she did groan a bit because she had lost some hair, weight, etc.  She didn’t look like herself.  She did them for us and also for herself.  We didn’t have any photos of her with my youngest daughter.  One would think we would have several with me being a photographer, but, as most photographers know, you spend a great deal of your time working for others and you often forget to pick up the camera for yourself.  She was so happy when she saw the final product!  She kept saying over and over how happy she was that we did them.

Q:  Did you or Melissa have a specific vision for the session?

A:  Not really-I know from experience that you don’t get a lot of time to shoot these sessions.  It is very emotional work and I didn’t want to overload Melissa with any “we MUST have this or that”.  I think I told her-“she won’t sit for long-we need a family pic, one of her with the kids, each kid and with her sister”.  The whole process took maybe 20 minutes.  Really, I just wanted her to capture us loving my mom.  You cannot plan those kinds of shots.  Those just happen.  Melissa did an amazing job of capturing the love and the heartache in the room that day.

Q:  Were the images captured what you thought they would be?

A: They were everything I hoped for and so much more.

Q: I know it has been a short time since your mom has passed, and hope this question isn’t too hard for you to answer. How do these images make you feel when you see them now?

A: I cry each time I see them–even now, writing this, thinking back to that morning, I am crying.  It is so very painful to lose someone you love and still need in your life.  I also smile when I see them.  I remember how it felt to put my arms around her that morning.  I remember her hand and how it felt on mine.  I see her strength and wisdom in her photos…and I also see her humor-as she did a special shot for us and it makes us giggle every time I see it.  Most of all, I think of the love we shared.  That journey was hard on everyone in my home but I would do it all over again, year after year, if it meant my mom would be here for me to talk to and take care of.

Brandi:  More than anything, these photos aid us in our healing.  She will never come back but we have these memories preserved forever–and they aren’t HER, but they ARE the next best thing!

Brandi has been in my thoughts and prayers especially as she has hit this one year anniversary.   Thank you so much to both Brandi and Melissa for sharing their time, talent and emotions with us!   Both of them are wonderful photographers in Roanoak and Grapevine Texas.  Please consider using them if you live in or visit this area.

If you know anyone who would qualify for an Ella’s Touch session please speak to them {or yourself} about getting a session.  Facing loss one knows is coming will never be easy, but we can capture those special family connections to treasure.

As an update: Ella who inspired Ella’s Touch passed away September 15th, 2011.  I will write about the experience in a couple months.  She is a special little girl who really touched so many lives.  My family is forever changed because of her life.

For more information about Ella’s Touch including the submission form to request an Ella’s Touch session, please visit the Ella’s Touch page:  Ella’s Touch

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