Everyone says: “How do you do it?” Quite honestly, it’s gotta be God. ‘Cuz how else could you agree to volunteer to cover such a grief stricken time in a couple’s life.
I wasn’t on call today but as God would see fit, I was available this morning…to cover a loss. So I texted back: “I can take this one.”
That moment when I know for certain that I am going…I become someone else. My head becomes clear of all the clutter, that is my life and I methodically gather my gear, fill my water bottle and grab some sort of bar, toss it in my camera bag, get the keys and I’m out the door. Nothing on my mind except arriving safely and in a timely manner but often times I pray. I pray for the families that are gathering, I pray for the staff and I pray that I can make the most beautiful images for the parents…for these will be all they have, of their little one, once they walk out the door of the hospital. Then, the moment that the nurse draws back the curtain (or pushes the door open), pokes her head in and says, “…the photographer’s here.” This is where I come in. I set my bag on the floor, slowly make my way to the bed (where often both parents are seated holding their little one or in some cases ‘ones’), introduce myself and extend my sorrow for their untimely loss. Never having had any children all I can do is imagine….imagine what a loss like this would be like to endure. Sometimes I say nothing….all dependent upon how I read the situation. Always tho’, I’m required to get a parent to fill out and sign the form stating that they have requested that we (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) be there to photograph for them…I hate that part…”hey, can you take a moment, dry your eyes so you can see to sign this form?” HATE it…but, it’s a must. Can’t really do anything until it’s signed. In the rush of things, I’m certain that they don’t even remember or realize they did..it just protects me and the foundation. Covering these losses always gets me thinking about stuff…life mostly, and what we do with ours (or the very least, what I do with mine). Seems I always come away from them with a clearer sense of the life I should be living. These sessions are great teachers, if I let them…and I usually do. My mind, body and soul connect and I thank God for giving me the talent and the ability to step into this role…that of someone who can help make healing possible for these parents and families for the days, weeks, months and years to come.