fine art maternity, birth, newborn, baby, child and family photography

a dear friend and the letter she forwarded to me… {New Orleans photographer}

I normally wouldn’t share this kind of personal information on my business blog — but I am strongly feeling I should, and can’t get that feeling out of my head.  So here goes.

I have a dear friend named Mandi.  I use the present tense even though she passed away over 8 months ago, because I still feel her presence.  For some reason, in the last week, she has been popping into my mind frequently: while I was sitting at a red light, then while I was posing a newborn at a session, then again while I was playing with my giant pup Jasper at City Bark.  I am the kind of person who is very visual and sees words spelled out in my head when I think them, and her name has been running across my brain like top billing on a marquee.

And as soon as I think of her, I think of the terrible irony of a message she sent me, not long before she died.  I haven’t told anyone about this, but I feel like she is urging me to.  So here it is:

Mandi sent me this link to a post from another photographer, who wrote about a Mom who left a letter on her doorstep.  Here is the letter:

July 2nd, 2011

Jeanine – 

Today I am writing for a couple of reasons.  I have some quiet time at the moment and need to get a couple of things off my mind.  I will leave this for my husband to deliver to you when he is ready.

You photographed my wedding, you photographed my first pregnancy and my first baby.  I contacted you awhile back to photograph my 2nd child and family.  After getting prices and realizing I would want all of the pictures as we love your work – I decided against spending $500+ – which is what I normally spend for portraits and prints with you..  Please know it is not because I don’t value your amazing eye, or how much we love the experience.

That week that I decided to NOT do a session with you, this is how I spent some money.

On Sunday I called and cancelled our session.  Monday I went out and got my hair cut ($39+tip), and colored ($65), Thursday I had my nails done ($24), my family went out to dinner at a somewhat expensive restaurant for no particular reason costing us $79 + tip.  This was just 4 days since canceling our session, already totaling over $200 for un necessary things.  My nails only lasted about 2 weeks, my hair is gone, and seven weeks passed when I got the phone call from our doctor.  It was not something I expected and the cancer has spread very quickly.  I will be leaving my husband, my 6 year old girl and my now 2 year old – not by choice.  It is very hard for me to talk about it which is why I need to write you.

I watch your Facebook page and your posts about the value of a photo and if I could give back all of those things that I purchased this few weeks after I cancelled my session with you, knowing what I know now, and have that session, well… I would do it in a heartbeat. 

Now my time is done and there are no more chances for me.  The next time someone cancels a session – my wish is that you forward this letter to them.  Time is fragile, it is gone before you know you had it.  If you charged $200 for one print it wouldn’t be enough for what it is actually worth.  I cringe to think that my priorities were a manicure over a memory to pass onto my babies and husband.

My love and thanks for what you have given us from past photos.  I am so sorry that I did not see it as more than paper until now.

Karen L.

The full post can be read here.  And now Mandi, the lovely, cheery, bubbly person who sent me this link, is gone.  I met her in college, during our freshman year. People wax poetic about those who have passed away all the time, but Mandi really was such a happy, loving person.  She was literally always smiling, with huge dimples that I think of as her defining feature.  She and her husband Jason, who still writes her the most beautiful love letters that I am privileged to read on her Facebook page, had a little girl who had to fight to survive from birth because of a very rare chromosomal disorder.  Mandi was the perfect mother for Kenzie — I can’t imagine anyone who would have been more patient, more loving, more suited to the challenges of raising her.  And her best friend Jason was her equal and partner, the perfect father for this special little girl.  It seems so unfair, so downright cruel that Mandi isn’t still here with her family, watching Kenzie hit more and more milestones as she grows.  It breaks my heart.

Mandi, I shared the letter you thought I should see.  You told me you thought of me when you read it, and that you wished every Mom could read it.  You told me the pictures I took of your family were beautiful, perfect, that I captured pictures of Kenzie “that were so ‘HER'”.  I am so glad we did that while you were here.

I miss you, but I know it’s only a FRACTION of the amount you are missed by Jason and Kenzie.  I love seeing Jason’s pictures of your daughter as she grows, and his letters to you, on your Facebook page.  It gives me the strength to wait for the man who loves me like he loves you.

We miss you.  Here are a few of your favorites from that session almost 2 years ago.  I remember how much you loved the image of Kenzie’s sweet little feet.

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Screen shot 2013-02-22 at 12.43.17 AM

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