This is a heartwarming story for you. It warmed my heart so I think it will do the same for you.
When I made a transition in November 2014 to full time photography, I still currently work one day a week as a registered nurse. It was my full time gig for over 10 years and in that time I worked as a Surgical Trauma ICU nurse at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. So it was a big chaotic because in the years leading up to the transition I was actually working more than one full time job as the company was requiring more and more time as it grew. In this growing stage, I did decide the merge the two careers in a way and I volunteered to be a Capturing Hopes Photographer. It is a way I can give back and I am all about giving back with my time and talent to those that need and deserve it.
While Capturing Hopes is typically aimed at photography of children that are because of illness confined to a hospital or facility, days before I left my career at Duke I had an encounter that was a little like the goal and aim of Capturing Hopes but in a different sense. Months before I made the offer for this session, I took care of a young man. He was young in terms of the illness and fight that he had in front of him. I remember that as the ever thinking critical care nurse that I was, I knew this guy was sick. And what struck me further was the situated in the corner of his room day in and day out was his wife and while she was also watching tv, checking out her iPad and cell phone she was also every few hours pumping breast milk. They had a baby at home. A little baby and here he was sick as all get out and here she was being a supportive and caring wife and keeping the pumping schedule up to nourish their youngest – even in the hospital while supporting her very ill husband.
I started a conversation after introducing myself. We talked for awhile and a few hours later, she left to head home to their kids.
Fast forward about 8 or 9 months later, I was receiving report on my patient for the evening. His story was familiar. His name was a distant memory and yet when I walked in the room I remember exactly whom he was. There was his wife – in the corner pumping breast milk. I offered her some privacy and told her I would return in 10 minutes or so. Upon returning, we started talking again. I told her that I didn’t know if she remembered me but I very much remembered her and her husband. Their story resonated with me. He was too young to be this sick. He had too much more of his life to live and he had 3 children and a very supportive and loving wife he had to live for.
Unfortunately, his story was very much the same as before but this time the prognosis was much poorer. In her grief and solemn moments, we talked about her family. About her kids. How they had been adjusting and then she brought out her laptop and started showing me recent pictures of the children.
They were smiling and I could see the growth over the months. They were being kids in the pictures and what I noticed about them even more than the fact that they were on a point and shoot camera was that in every single one someone was missing from them. Let alone that none of them included her husband with all 3 of their children, she was the photographer for most of them and if she wasn’t one of the kids just happened to not be in the picture.
I knew then I needed to try and change that.
I explained to my patients’ wife that evening that in addition to being a full time nurse at that time, I was also a full time photographer and I owned my own business. I explained all about Capturing Hopes and it’s aim to give professional portraits to those that otherwise may not be able to get them because of medical circumstances in their lives. I had hoped that I could right the wrong in that they didn’t have a family picture with all of the family members in it. I had hoped that the kids would be able to come and visit their dad in the hospital or maybe he would even be able to get discharged. I knew it was a far fetched idea but I held tight to it. I gave her my card and I told her to call or email when she though it was right.
A week and a half later I received an email from her that her husband had passed away a few days before. In my grief though I knew I still wanted to offer the photo session for her and her boys.
So that is just what we did. One beautiful spring morning – a stark contrast to the weather and environment of our last meeting – we met for a family portrait session to right this wrong. And while I wasn’t able to achieve my ultimate goal of giving them family portraits of the whole family before their dad and husband died, I did manage to give them some great memories I think.
So enjoy some images from my fantastic family session with the Morton family at Duke Gardens and never forget the importance of family pictures – GOOD family pictures with everyone in them! The memories and just far too important to not have proof that they happened.