Where do I even begin when writing about this session? I'm not sure, so.... I'll start with this photo instead. So.
This Momma and I met a few months ago, following tragedy: she witnessed the accident that took the life of Amanda, one of the baristas at my favorite coffee shop.
Backstory: For the past few years, I have spent anywhere from 30- 75 hours a week at this coffee shop, working away on computer related tasks for my business. I joke about it being "my office" but in truth it is really one of the places that I feel home. And so, even though I only knew Amanda peripherally - we'd exchanged a few short conversations here and there - her accident pulled at me hard. She was young - just 27, and she was extraordinarily kind. She was in nursing school, and she was biking in a helmet, and in a very short amount of time, she was no longer alive. This Momma saw it.
I couldn't stop thinking about the accident - how it abruptly ended one life, and irreversibly altered the lives of so many others - her beloved partner, her co-workers, friends, family, fellow nursing students, and a large extended community of others. Spending time at the coffee shop following her death was extraordinarily painful. Her co-workers carried on, but most were crying, or walking around in daze, or hugging, or quiet. The grief was so big inside there, in this place I'd come to think of as a home, and feeling the sadness of so many people around me felt extremely heavy.
I thought of this Momma, of how it might be to witness something like this. I thought of how hard parenting two young children while processing this might be.
When I met her at the vigil, I tried to think of what to say. It was all so horrific and devastating. And I thought of the words I heard from a dear friend of mine after other tragedies: "When you don't know what to do, do what you do know how to do". I realized that I did have something I could give - I could capture her young family in their vibrance and alive-ness, and give her some beauty to hold onto anytime she was overwhelmed by sadness or needing a reminder of the goodness of life.
And so, her she is, with her stunning group of loves.The light that evening was perfect.
Thank you, Amanda, for your light. We honor you.