Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Super Day

Gosh, even for someone as wordy as I am, I feel like I don’t have the words to describe today. (More on how it came about here.) Partially because most of it’s influence on me is internal, and I’ve still got some processing to do with all of it.  But don’t worry…I’ll try to give you a peek. I have to try to get some of it down, because I don’t want to forget.

I spent the day with Kim and Jodie from Fresh Art Photography, a pair of super cool ladies I only came to know of yesterday morning in one of those “it’s no accident” kind of ways.  And how great that I could be of at least a little help today, a day celebrating the life of little Seamus, raising money for the NICU at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

So while the girls shot kids and parents, babies and toddlers, moms, dads, and one seriously cute couple, I fetched the muscle man, Tom, or held jackets, or pointed out folded-up sleeves, or blew bubbles at the right time, or just stood as a barrier when they shot in the middle of the street.

Seamus was a precious little boy born to Tom and Sharon almost a year ago. He lived in the NICU at SLCH for 7 1/2 weeks, his amazingly adoring mother and father by his side every single day and night.  He left this earth on April 23, 2009.  Today’s “Shoot for Seamus” was a wonderful way to get great photos and benefit the NICU at SLCH. These are two of the most wonderful parents and people I’ve met. (Please be sure to read about how they connected with Jodie here. It’s hard but beautiful.)

I have to say that when spending time with families who have lost children, life takes on a different perspective. I’ve learned a great deal from my beautiful friend Karol as she and her family have missed Laynee. 

These parents that I met today didn’t leave the hospital with their child. They didn’t get to take them home.  We had a NICU stay of 3 1/2 weeks, but we left with our child.  We received hard news at birth with a diagnosis of Down syndrome, significant cardiac issues, and upcoming open heart surgery, but our little girl was there with us, came home to her nursery, and is snoozing so peacefully in her bed right now

To hear these parents talk is to realize once again how blessed I am.  I have a little girl. She has a disability.  But she is here. They would give anything for that to be their story, I’m quite sure.

Pamela came with her husband and her son. They will have some amazing pictures of today’s shoot.  What a brilliant little 3-year-old they have!  And yet they are clearly and deeply missing little Elijah who they held and loved and celebrated for all of his 63 minutes with them last November.  They knew they would only have him with them a short time. They knew he would not come home. Yet they chose to make every moment of his little life, in the womb and outside of it, the most loving and positive experience. 

Sharon and Tom are a riot. So much fun, obviously positive and generous people. There were poignant moments in the day when it was painfully clear how much they love their son and what an important part he is in their family. To see them with these other children throughout the day—it was wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time. They ARE spectacular parents, though their son is not with them.

Pamela was an absolute delight. She was so sweet and gracious.  Such a picture of faith and selfless parenting to give herself completely to the job of making Elijah’s short life completely perfect.

But as they mentioned, they are in a club that no one wants to be a part of. Yet I would say that they are doing a marvelous job of looking after each other, their respective families, and other parents who will inevitably follow them into that painful club.  Their willingness to share their stories, to tell of their beautiful children, it is truly amazing.  I know without a doubt that those two families, like so many others that move forward with life but NEVER forget, they will make a difference in lives over and over as they continue on. 

And I can’t forget Kim and Jodie…photographers, friends, excellent listeners, and each the owner of a heart of gold.  These girls were SO much fun, they were clearly so very talented at their art, and they exhibited a kind of compassion for families at their most vulnerable state like I have rarely seen.  I just love meeting people who I’m comfortable with from the first impression.  These girls could totally be in my circle. They could be buds o’mine. And to give your talent and craft to a cause that is priceless to families who are hurting, being able to give memories to those who will only have pictures to remind them, it takes a special person.  And I met two of them today. It was a privilege to get to watch them work and to try to make a very long day a little less tiring. 

So for a long day of hanging out in an abandoned area of the riverfront with interesting characters in the background and police patrolling quite frequently, it was a very rewarding day.  I learned from watching—about lighting, about angles, about colors and textures.  But what will last from this day is the impression these people made on me.  The love worn so openly for children that we can’t see, babies that they cannot hug, and yet who are as much a part of their families as the ones they can hold.  Their pain will always go with them, but the open arms they offer to those who are in need—that is the legacy that will shine brightly.

Though they now wait in Heaven, those children have made their parents better people.  And that is something that will never be forgotten.

Two dates now reside on my calendar and will remind me every year.  November 10, 2009 for Baby Elijah, and April 23, 2009 for Baby Seamus.  I’ll always remember to be praying for their families on those days, the days they last held their hearts’ desires in their arms.  But the beauty is that one day, both these families will see them again.  Their faith is strong. They believe and they know and they don’t want to wait. Yet they will live each day fully until they meet again.

Tom, Sharon, Pamela, Jodie, and Kim—Thank you. I’m honored to have been a part of this day. And know that in one more heart, they will never be forgotten.
      
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(Kim, Jodie, Tom, Sharon, and Pamela)


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At the end of the long day… but SO worth it!

(More pictures soon…)

5 comments:

  1. Hey there! I enjoyed reading your story about yesterday. Thank you for documenting it. It was an amazing day... Love and Peace, Pamela

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  2. RK! This is so wonderful-I am crying tears of sadness and joy reading this. Thank you for sharing. Oh, God is so good!

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  3. Tears are streaming down my face and I'm not the crier! Kim is!

    Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving up your entire day to hang with us. I'm sure you didn't feel you did much but you really did. Just having you there was comforting. And trust me friend, you ARE in our circle! :)

    We'll be in touch...
    jodie

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  4. Ok Rhanda Kay...this is so cool! I read Jodie's blog (love her photography) and have for like a year but haven't checked it in a month or so, and today I checked it and when I read your name I thought 'oh my could this be the same RK I know?...na...but that name is not common and it's st. louis!' So I clicked the link & it brought me here to you!! So cool that you got to meet her & that her blog brought me back to you!

    Just had to let you know! :) Take care & thanks for putting things in perspective w/ your words! Very touching!
    Jodi Eisenmann

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  5. Jodi E,
    Oh my! How in the heck are you?!? If you check back and see this, drop me a line...braskasmom @ gmail dot-com. It IS such a small world! :o)
    RK

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