Their Charlotte home was warm + inviting, bright + airy. Toys were in the front room, played with and loved. Family photos hung on the walls in the entry, inviting me into a home I could already tell was filled with love. As I walked in and set up my camera, I was welcomed with questions from a young boy around 3 who was very happy to be front and center. I was also welcomed with the nervous energy of a preteen knowing I'll soon be photographing him and probably wondering how he should or should not behave for the camera, lol.
As I walked further into their home, mom cradled her newborn baby the girl, the only girl in the house besides mom. She lay sleeping for quite sometime, as most newborns do, with the occasional baby sounds escaping her. Dad came around the corner with the biggest smile in greeting as he kissed his new little on her head, and also his wife. I could instantly tell, this was genuine love and happiness between them. And that new baby smell was perfect!
I was really looking forward to this session, even though I did not have much time to mentally prepare for it like I usually do. You see, one Friday night I received an email around 11 pm with an inquiry for a photo + film session, it was urgent as her oldest son had terminal brain cancer that he'd been fighting for over 6 years and they weren't sure how much more time they had. Mom & Dad also have 3 younger kiddos and the youngest was their newborn who was born the month before. My heart typed faster in response than my head, I went over to there house within 35 hours. It was a beautiful Charlotte day that Sunday. I had the opportunity to photograph some newborn images as well as normal, fun everyday activities. I spent the day with a family filled with smiles, laugher, understanding, warmth, wonderfulness (is that a word?). I am humbled that I was chosen to take their photos. Mom had done a google search for Charlotte family photographers and she found me, the ironic part? We literally live a couple of blocks away from each other.
Sitting on their couch, the youngest boy read a book with Mom while his older brother pet their sweet pup. Dad walked around the downstairs holding his youngest love and rocking her to sleep. Upstairs, Nathan slept soundly, cozy and safe in his bed.
We all went upstairs when Nathan was ready for us to take photos. Cuddled on the bed in the guest bedroom, Nathan and his family smiled for the camera. Nathan loved on his mama and was so sweet with his younger siblings. The pride Dad has in his oldest boy is beyond anything. Nathan was a sweet, warm young man. He had a smile that crept up to his eyes. He was soft hearted and LOVEd his mama. He looked as if he was floating when his dad put his arm around him. He was an older brother, a Lego master, a movie expert, and in the short time I met him, I saw the spark in his eye that charmed everyone who has met him.
Sadly, less than 2 weeks after I met them, Nathan passed away. My heart hurts for them, my heart hurts for the world. I have no words that can help, but I hope the video and images of their family of 6 (7 including their pup) help bring comfort.
What a gift to have met them and documented their lives. I take the words from the sign that I saw hanging in their home and try my hardest to remember to always live by.... "Our Family: Gives big hugs, keeps promises, laughs out loud, is creative, says we're sorry, does our best, dreams big, plays outside, sings & dances, reads books, cuddles, uses kind words, loves each other."
When this session ended it sparked something inside of me, there had to be more than just fluke that this Mom found me randomly and me being available to come ASAP. I had done another session for a family the year before (see that session HERE), for a child that is battling a brain tumor as well. There has to be an easier way for families to find photographers who are ready and able to photograph families who are going through the same battles, and I found The Gold Hope Project. I applied, was accepted, and I am now so honored to be a photographer for families going through the biggest battles. Nathan inspired me to find a way to give back, I hope he inspires you too.