A couple of months ago, my emotions were spiraling out of control after having my miscarriage. I was lost, scared, selfish, hopeless…
Then, on August 28th at 2:54 pm, I got a text from my friend Adrienne that said, “Can you give me a call sometime this afternoon? I have a favor.”
By 3:39 pm, my personal anguish was over. With one phone call, my miscarriage went from something that was destroying me to something that had happened in my past.
Cancer. The destroyer of reason. The greatest element that keeps my struggle in believing in a higher power, a universal reason at the front of my mind. I always want to believe that everything happens for a reason but when cancer walks in the room, it becomes more powerful than reason, more dominating than ‘meant to be’.
Adrienne’s good friend Nikki was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 34, just hours before I got the text. With two little children her last wish was to have her family photographed together, happy, healthy, beautiful in a way that her children would remember forever.
There are so many photographers that Adrienne could have called, but she chose us. For that, I believe in a reason. But Nikki’s purpose couldn’t have been to heal my heartbreak, yet cancer’s strength was determined to take this beautiful woman away from her family.
We met with Nikki and her husband James right away and I was immediately flooded with love and emotion for this courageous woman. She sat up in her hospital bed talking about her wishes for these photographs and telling us about her prognosis with confidence and strength. My heart listened as she continued to give instructions on how to care for the girls to James, teaching him how things would need to be done when he was on his own. Lessons he may not have needed, but what mattered was that Nikki needed to give them. Could I have been as strong? I hope to never have to know.
On the day of the shoot it was going to be impossible to have Nikki leave the hospital but important for her that the photographs didn’t look like they were surrounded by illness. We brought a curtain and purple balloons to soften the area and began to shoot this beautiful, special family as their extended family watched us in tears.
No session has ever felt more important to me. When is it the right moment to freeze time with the people we love? Never yesterday.
Yesterday, November 18th, Nicola passed away. Her battle was difficult and short. Her family was strong and solid. Our hearts are broken, yet comforted knowing her pain is over. I will always have this message from Nikki: “Please text this message onto Bonnie and let her know that they made one of my most important wishes come true, thank you truly.”
Rest in Peace beautiful Nikki. Thank you for allowing us to enter your world and to know you for such a short time.
I wish I could have known them before Nikki’s cancer because the light inside them even through this difficult time was bright, but I will be forever changed and endlessly grateful to have been touched by their love and courage.