A few months ago a new client asked that I photograph her family, as they had just learned that the patriarch of their family had given a medical diagnosis that was less than desirable. It was her father, and the session was her parents as well as her siblings and their spouses and children. In the traditional sense, their FAMILY. Their people. Let's go back in time a few years to when I felt 'called' by the art of photography. My calling was not only to have the ability to create art through a lens, but also the personal connection that I literally must try to capture in order to photograph these people who have paid me to do so. Here's the thing. I love doing that. I am an extroverted introvert. I love to meet people. I love to listen to someone's dreams, goals. I love to hear about their kids, whether they love or hate their careers and really anything else they want to tell me. I just like. people. (if they are nice and definitely if they are grumpy). Fast forward to this session. I tried to capture what she wanted. I tried to put myself in her shoes so I could understand how it might feel and get some images that she, her mom and their entire family could cherish for a lifetime or more.
Which brings me to the present. I am in the shoes. I am here, performing with heartbreak. Here is my family. This is a very quick session that I put together to capture my amazing, loving and truly remarkable family about three weeks ago. I, too, learned of a grim prognosis that my beloved Dad received shortly before these pictures. I set up a tripod at the end of my parents street in someone's front yard. It was my Dad's 69th birthday. Please excuse my swollen, red eyes. I was crying for three straight days. Please forgive my wrinkles. They show the fear and anguish that I am feeling. Please forgive my hair. It's been breaking and falling out for months now and I don't know why. But please do notice my family. Please notice how much we love each other. Notice our smiles just happy to be with each other (for a family picture, no less!). My beautiful children who will not know their grandfather as they grow older. You see, my Dad has been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. It has metastasized to his liver and lungs. We are trying. Some days we feel strong. Some days we do not. I use the word 'we' because that is what we are. A unit. A group. A FAMILY. Fighting this fight along with my Dad. We will be there with him through this terrifying journey. I am sad for myself and my mom. I am sad for my boys. My brother and his family. But mostly, I am so sad for my Dad. He doesn't deserve this. Life should get easier as you get older. This is hard.
The doctors say that if he does chemo, he might last one year. That sounds pretty dreamy to us considering the doctor at MVH said 4-6 months. So this past Thursday, he started. Mom and I sat with him for 3.5 hours while they pumped poison into his already frail body. It just about put me over the edge. He never wears jeans. He wore jeans. He looked wonderful. Good color. Decent weight. Hair. Twinkle in his eye. I had much difficulty with the fact that it was the best he would ever look. That moment. Those 3 hours. That was the best he would ever look again. It was heartbreaking. I can't even think about it without crying (hello tears).
I am hopeful and will remain hopeful. My parents are strong and they raised strong children. I keep telling Dad that everything will be okay. No matter what. Because truly, it will.