When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul
It's kind of a crazy story of how I met this family. I decided to head out with the family to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens one hot summer day. They have a fantastic play area with a splash pad and the gardens are so fun to explore. I was actually knee deep in the midst of our family's 365 Project (you can see some of those pics here- I took a picture of our daily life every day for 365 WHOLE DAYS!) so I had my camera with me.
As I'm watching the kids run around and splash and play, I see another mama with a 3 kids roll up in her big double stroller with a baby about the age of mine. Naturally, my big kids ran over to play and I sat back observing and watching my baby sleep. I noticed the mama carry her middle son to the fountains and helped him to sit down and enjoy the fountains. She was so tender with him as they played and explored the water. The scene pulled at my heart and I felt the urge to snap their picture. Mama's need to be in the pictures with their babies and so often it is us mama's that are behind the camera, tasked with documenting and preserving our family's memories.
But if you know me, I'm not one to just go up to people and ask to take their picture. It's incredibly nerve wracking for me. What if she yelled at me and thought I was some creep stalking her or her kids? Honestly, that had the potential to embarrass me to the point where I could never show my face in public again. But like I said, I felt an intense need to do this. I'm pretty sure God was tugging at my heart for this one. So, I did. I went up to her and nervously spit out that I was a photographer and that I'd love to take a quick picture of her and her son and that I would email it to her later. She smiled and said of course. And here we are, that was over a year ago and I've photographed their family THREE times since then.
When Steph sent me a message to ask if I could photograph their family for a fall lifestyle/documentary fusion session, I was thrilled. I am happy to be a part of this family's memories and I'm over the moon that they have chose me again and again to document their lives.
So, I'll just go ahead and explain the why behind this picture above; it is of the upmost importance. This shot is highly representative of this family and the storm they have weathered together. This picture is a symbol of healing. Physically, mentally, emotionally. This is progress. This is the journey out of the storm and into clearer skies.
You see, Everett is a Non Fatal Drowning survivor. To say his journey has been long and hard is an understatement. Most of us cannot even imagine the trauma and the terror this family has faced. Yet, here they are. Grateful for every day, every breath, and every second they get to spend together- praising God all along the way. I won't go too much into detail because that's their story to tell, not mine. I'll just show you the story I see- and that's one of healing, hope, love, and trust.
His picture above? He's wrapped in his mama's arms STANDING and his g-tube has been removed for GOOD. The site is healing over and they aren't looking back- ever.
We played in their back yard, enjoyed the last of the day's light and fun was had by all- especially the littlest guy. Their Daddy came home straight from work and jumped right in to play and have some pictures made with his family.
We were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.
Their joy and delight that they choose to find in everyday is nothing short of inspirational. And the way big sister loves on her brothers and includes them in her whimsical make believe world is just the most precious thing! I think big sisters have a way with that, don't you? Well, unless she gets a splinter in her finger. Then all bets are off.
If you'd like to see more of their story and read about The Miracle Boy Everett, search these hashtags on Facebook and Instagram:
Jess is a photographer serving families located in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She specializes in documentary and storytelling photography.