When Tim's application appeared in my inbox, I read it and looked forward to our first phone call. Tim's words read, "I am terminally ill, and would love to have some of our remaining love captured. We are a special family that always tries to help anyone in need. My wife works all of the time and when we spend time together, we don't think of pictures. I'd love for someone to capture the true love that we share." When we spoke on the phone, he let me know that his wife handles most of the scheduling for their family and gave me her number to coordinate the session.
I left a message for Sarah, his wife. When she called me back, she apologized for the delay, and said she wanted to make sure this wasn't a scam. She said her husband doesn't normally apply for things, so she was surprised to get my message. I chuckled inside because I had never thought about Love Not Lost coming across as a scam, but could only imagine the things going through someone's head if they didn't know their spouse had applied. I'm so thankful Sarah decided to call me back! Sarah and I had a wonderful conversation as she told me more about their family.
Tim was diagnosed with brain cancer two years ago in February, on his son's birthday. He's had 4 brain surgeries, including radiation, which caused some pretty severe side effects. Despite all of that, Tim is making the most of the time with his family. We planned our session for the beginning of November and booked our flight to Pennsylvania. When I arrived, there were still some fall colors dangling on the trees and the air was cool and crisp. Tim, Sarah, and their daughter Haley, welcomed me into their home where I was greeted by their two awesome dogs as well. Although the dogs were extremely curious (and a little freaked out about my camera and the sounds that it made), they let me take their picture and even gave some kisses.
We sat in the living room sharing stories for a bit. While we waited on their sons to get home from school, we all walked across the street to hang out with family friends. The kids were chasing each other and goofing off out in the neighbor's backyard, and of course, I grabbed a few photos. Haley soaks up her dad's love like a sponge. As a fellow Daddy's girl, I could totally relate, and wanted to be sure to capture a few of those precious exchanges.
When we thought the boys might be home, we walked back to the house where I met Michael, Richard, and Timmy. I was warned before hand that Michael was a jokester and that he and Richard (both 16 years old) would be cracking jokes the whole time. I was ready. Laughter is such good medicine and I'll take as much as I can get.
We all piled in two cars to go to a local park. The second the car doors opened when we arrived, I heard laughter rolling out of their car. The kids rolled out of the backseat and we made our way to a grassy area to start our session together. We took a family picture to get everyone warmed up, and then captured some really sweet moments with Tim and Sarah. Their hearts are huge and their love is strong. You'll be able to see it in the photos.
Tim was being humble when he said they are a special family that always tries to help anyone in need… In the short time I spent with their friends across the street, they told me how much Tim and Sarah have meant to them and how giving they are. They truly do help anyone in need, including their friends and family. Richard is Michael's best friend, and when he lost his dad, Tim and Sarah asked him to join their family and made the adoption official. Years earlier and under different circumstances, they had made the same ask to their nephew, Timmy, and officially adopted him into their family. Their family of 6 is a beautiful picture of selflessness and unconditional love. I was so inspired by their family and sometimes have to pinch myself that this is my job. I know it sounds like it can be really hard, and it is, but I hope you can see that I am so lucky to meet all of these amazing families. They will always have a special place in my heart.
As we captured memories together, I couldn't help but admire their courage and strength… and laugh at Richard and Michael's comments. I put the two of them in charge of getting real smiles out of everyone :) It worked! We played in the leaves and everyone got their individual photos with Dad. We left the park to go to the church where Sarah and Tim got married to capture a few memories there as well. Locations can play a really important role in photos so we always ask our applicants if there are places with meaning that they would like to go to for photos.
We caught the last light of day and felt the warm glow of the sun set on our faces. My least favorite part of every session is saying goodbye, but then I can come home and re-live all the great memories and moments together as I edit and then share on the blog so that you can enjoy them too.
I want to give a shout out to Gethrr, a really cool non-profit community, who sponsored this session. Please take a moment to check them out and the awesome stuff they are doing. Our travel sessions run an average of $1,200 to make it happen, complete with the book. We can't keep serving families without individual donations and company sponsorships - thank you for your support. Memories Matter.