These photographs mean more to me than many of you could imagine. They are not just photographs of babies. They are not just photographs of Mothers. To me, and to these beautiful Women who are my Cousins, these photographs are a moment of joy captured in a time of agony.
And here is our story:
The day after Thanksgiving our Grandmother passed away. We were all sad, but grateful that she was no longer in pain. All her children gathered in Oklahoma to bid her farewell, and many of her grandchildren like myself said a prayer in our heart while living far away. Then my Uncle Lowell, her Son, was on his way to her viewing on December 1st when he was in a car accident and killed by a man who was under the influence. That night I answered the phone…it was my brother. He said, “Carrie…have you heard?….” He relayed the story and I dropped the phone and sobbed. I went to the couch in the other room far away from everyone and wailed and sobbed. I cried for my Uncle whom I loved, and I cried for my Aunt Sarah and my Cousins whom I adore–they had just lost their Father. The timing and circumstances surrounding his death bore a hole in our hearts. Our whole family was in shock and devastated.
I gathered my belongings and flew to Oklahoma to attend the funeral and support and grieve with my family. My Mother and her siblings were all there for their own Mother’s funeral so they just…stayed for their Brother’s. That word still puts a prick in my heart. After the funeral I spent a few days with my extended family and we cried and laughed and loved.
Before I left my house I felt prompted to bring my camera. It was an afterthought–but I followed it and the day after the funeral as we all sat in my late Uncle’s home I whispered and asked if they wanted photographs with their babies. They did, and we hustled around for light and blankets and became thoroughly distracted by their sweet Spirits.
Jackie and her darling 1 month old girl– after seeing these photos she wrote to me, “For me these photos have the sadness and tiredness of the death with the brightness of her birth. They were taken during a time of mourning–joy and sadness all at once. ”
Carol Lynn and her boy– this child was born many many weeks early and survived. Just 3 weeks earlier he was in the hospital for heart failure–and again–survived. We were able to take him off oxygen for a few minutes to capture his sweet face without the tubes. To me these pictures show a MIRACLE and a Mother who has sacrificed everything to keep him alive and still mother her 6 girls at home.
So these photographs are more to me than Babies and more to me than Mothers.
Jackie was right– photos are used at our birth and at our death.
They are powerful.