Every year on this day, I can’t help but think of a special encounter I had 8 years ago.
I agreed to be the back-up photographer for my friend who was delivering a baby who wasn’t expected to live long. I was the back-up photographer and I never imagined that I would actually be called to help. Until I was – just a half hour after he was born. The photographer couldn’t make it and they needed me to shoot photos of their baby’s short mortality.
I had never been asked to be a part of something so special and sacred not to mention personal. I started to shoot the photos. I took some family photos and several baby close-ups – the mother never let go of him and grandparents from both sides were in the room offering their love and support. I thought to excuse myself several times, but they wanted every minute of his life documented and I continued to shoot.
Just a short while later – enveloped in his mothers arms, his dad’s hand on his chest, tears started rolling down his face as he quietly proclaimed the baby had stopped breathing.
The emotions in the room shifted immediately and I was overcome with grief for my friend and tears rolled down my face as I hid behind the camera and shot a few more photos at her request. I could see the hurt in her eyes and the pain she was feeling. I could feel the sadness and grief that hovered over the room.
The family grieved their loss. And then there was a change in the room. I’m not entirely sure what caused the movement but hope filled the room in a way that felt tangible. Yes, sadness existed as well, but hope won out – the hope of seeing their baby once again made everything bearable.
I learned a lot that afternoon in the hospital with my friend. I learned what strength looked like, I also learned what death looked like. Bennett Evans will forever be with me. It was a life-changing moment – happiness and grief and hope all etched in my heart. Happy 8th birthday Bennett.