Saturday, October 20, 2012

Death and life again....The Austin's and their story.

It's always a little nerve wracking showing up to the wedding rehearsal to a bunch of strangers. Most are friendly. Sometimes not. Sometimes there is attitude from the bridesmaids. Or the minister. We usually win them over with charm by the end of the night. In the case of Krissy and Don's wedding, everyone was wonderful and warm. The first person to approach me was Stephanie. She let me know that the groom was her husband's best man in their wedding. We were also Facebook friends and I hadn't even realized.

Luck would have it that at the dinner, we ended up sitting beside each other at a table of about 30. We started chatting and I got choked up at her story. I knew we had met for a reason.

At the wedding, her mom started chatting to me in the washroom and said her family is adopting me. Her daughter, Alanna, had already booked her very high end USA photographer but they wanted to hire me to shoot her engagement photos as a gift to her. We were also hired last night to photograph Stephanie, Ben and Kenton at a beautiful local park in Woodstock.

And sometimes, there is no better way to tell a story than firsthand.

Stephanie's words:

But before that, a thank you for allowing us to document such an amazing family with grace, strength, love and light.

We love you.

The contrast of soaring joys and deepest sorrows is a condition of human life. The compression of these things into a five week span for my family in March/April of 2012 still keeps us a little dizzied. On March 9, 2012 Kenton Laurence Thomas Austin arrived into the world at 8 lbs 0 oz to the most loving family a child could have. His parents, all four grandparents, aunts and uncles were there when he was born, and marvelled at this pure joy that had entered our lives. As the next couple of weeks wore on for me, love, pride, contentment, joy, exhaustion, worry and blood transfusions all mingled and began to settle into a more normal version of life again. But three weeks to the day, profound and shocking sorrow was added to the mix as my beloved dad – a constant fixture of love, support, fun, wisdom and every-day-chats – died in front of my eyes from a massive brain aneurysm a few hours after we had arrived home to Woodstock for a visit. Even though it didn’t seem possible life got harder again when my dearest mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks after that. 
To even re-write that series of events makes me wonder how these gorgeous photos Wendy has captured for us find us smiling, peaceful, joyful, or even just whole six months later. People often ask me. All I can tell them is that while no parent could ever prepare you for their death (especially one that was completely unforeseen in every way), my dad gave us every opportunity to heal well by instilling in us two things: a deep love for family and rock-solid supports in each other, and above all faith in God’s love for us and an opportunity to be together again in eternity. Time, health re-found, and a beautiful, bouncing baby have been balms along the way.
This year has made me realize the precious gift that life is from all sides. It has given me an ardent desire to be the best person I can be, live with love, and treasure the precious people in my life. One of the very last things my dad did on earth was look through newborn photos of Kenton that we had picked up just that morning. The joy on his face is still etched into my memory. Thank you, Wendy, for capturing more joy in your photos last night, and our family just the way it is today. Anyone with a baby knows just how quickly things change. Family photos act like memory preservers, and are among my most prized possessions.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know this girl, but this story has me bawling my eyes out. I am so so sorry for the terrible loss of your dad, and the ongoing battle with your mom. The devastation you have, and continue to face leaves me speechless, in tears and covered in goosebumps. I am so happy you have a beautiful bundle of joy, and I know firsthand how incredibly healing these little people can be. May you always see your dad in him, and I hope he brings strength to your mom (as I know that there is nothing a grandparent is more proud of than their grandchild). The picture that Wendy Alana has superimposed your dad into will be a cherished keepsake for the rest of your life (she did one similar for me with my daughter and my sister) and I look at it every day and silently thank her for doing it. Wendy, you are a wonderful person, and you keep people and their memories alive through your beautiful photography. Thank you.