December 10, 2015
I woke up with a pit in my stomach that today would be emotionally difficult. As I drank my coffee, I looked through my Facebook newsfeed and read the many tributes people had posted about our friend who passed away two years ago. Each person sharing memories and photographs they have of him, my husband including me in his post. I scrolled through his photographs he shared hoping that there would be at least one of me with Donnell. Something about having that memory, those photographs, helps cope with the loss. Nonetheless, December 10th would still suck, every year.
2 Hours Later
I barely had time to pull into the office when I was asked to go to the hospital with my camera. The birth of your child is supposed to be one of the happiest days you’ll ever experience, but not today, not for this family. Their little girl was born just after 12am, but wasn’t strong enough to make it. Wanting nothing more than to cherish this time they have with her, her parents asked for a few photographs to be taken. When our loved ones are sick or getting old, we know the importance of taking more photographs, but what do you do when there just isn’t any time at all? I’ll be honest and say that I had no idea what to expect, how, or if I could even handle it.
I was nervous riding the elevator to Labor and Delivery and somehow I walked into the room holding myself together to do my job. I was welcomed by the father and extended family and their warm, gentle smiles was not at all what I expected. Thanking me more times than I could count and my response, “there’s no need to thank me”, not feeling adequate enough. The two hours I was there went by fast. The room was quiet. Too quiet for a delivery room. Checking my settings, angles, and lighting, I went through the motions of operating my camera equipment. I helped the mom comb her hair back into place. Their little girl was beautiful, with her mother’s button nose and her daddy’s long fingers. I’ve never first hand witnessed such strength and such pain. As they posed for their first and last family photographs with their baby, each parent took turns crying deeply. I stood in the doorway as the parents went from numbness, to loss that brings you to your knees, and then all over again. Quietly, I cried with them.
I needed a hug so bad and had the receptionist looked in my direction, I would’ve gladly taken one from her. I walked swiftly out of the hospital, as the sliding doors opened, trying to catch my breath. Just because I cried, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have gone. It just means I’m not a robot. My tears are nothing in comparison to the family that lost their little girl. If given the circumstances, I’d do it again to know that in some small, miniscule way these photographs might help a family cope and remember.