"Thank you for everything. We have found so much good in people since she was born", the Mom looked me in the eyes and said as I gathered my things. I didn't know what to say back. I mean, what do you say? What do you say to someone who is going to lose their child?
For the past four years I have given my photographic services to the families whose sweet children are in hospice care with Noah's Children. They range in ages from birth to roughly 16, and have various conditions that will take their lives way too early. Some are first born children, some have siblings. All are very, very deeply loved.
This morning I did a very special photo shoot for a family whose daughter was born with a genetic condition that was expected to take her life before she could even leave the hospital. She is home now, thirteen days old. The parents are all too aware of what the future holds, they just don't know when. So they will hold her, hug her, feed her, love her and cherish every single second.
Her older brother and sister are too young to understand, which I guess has its benefits, and greeted me shyly at the door hanging at their Mom's skirt, protected. Within minutes they were following me around, curious, then graduated to full on hams, stealing the show.
People always ask, how do you do it? How do you not do it. as carzy as life is, how can you not share your abilities. I guess my hands don't shake as much. I'm not as scared when I go in. I don't cry quite as much afterward. In some ways, I suppose, I have come to terms with it. I go in, do my job, and feel thankful that I can give these families a small bit of peace in their grief, that they'll know at least they have these photos in the years forward when of course they'd rather have the child.
I think the most incredible thing is when I see these families, they give me strength. It blows me away every time I hear these exact words, "We are just so thankful we have her for this little while".