16 October 2009

Tough Day

Today was a rough one (warning: death is involved, so if that is hard for you to read about, read THIS instead and check back later for a different post). I woke up early (you'd think so, but that wasn't the rough part) to get ready for a solo trip to the Seattle Art Museum. This no-children-all-day-while-they're-at-school is mighty nice. However, before I head out of the house I usually check the interweb (get it, web, it's Halloween month) for the latest news. Unfortunately, this morning brought news of the unexpected early birth and death of my friends baby. A few years ago I had the privilege of documenting the short life and death of another pre-term baby, Natalie Anne (her name is forever on my heart), who was the second baby for that couple to not make it past infancy. They had found me through a bereavement photography service I had registered with called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep (photographers donate their time for nothing in exchange). Never having experienced or seen a baby who's passed away, I wasn't sure what to expect when I got to the hospital. On my way there, I prayed... a LOT. I asked for strength and composure for myself and peace and comfort for the family. My heart told me it would be o.k. Because I have a belief that we will live beyond this earthly life in heaven, and with our family, I maintained my composure (the family did too; they also believe the same blessing) while taking pictures for them. She was tiny, about 12 oz (not even one pound) and only 17 weeks gestation. Her skin was very thin and almost translucent, giving her overall appearance a very dark red coloring. But she wasn't as un-formed as I thought she'd look (I pictured an alien). Her face was tiny, but all her features were there. Her tiny toes and fingers looked healthy and she looked peaceful. She was beautiful. She had fingernails, pouty lips and a little button nose (oh! that little button nose). Her knees bent, wrists flopped and head tilted. She was, in fact, a human being. That she didn't live past two, short breaths doesn't make her invisible. That she didn't open her eyes to see the world around her and gaze into her adoring mothers eyes doesn't mean those 17 weeks of growth were for nothing. She was a human being. Not because she took those two breaths but because she was created in God's image. She was moving, growing and developing since the moment she was conceived. [At this point in my typing, I started feeling angry and wanted to put out a for-life statement. But today isn't the day for that.] Today is a day for putting our faith in our Heavenly Father that He can give us peace for the heartache we cannot understand. So today I dedicated to the Barry's and not to the Seattle Art Museum. They were experiencing grief in the moment whereas the exhibits could wait for me. Today I was humbled to be a part of their families sacred time. I was on the Lord's errand. "I will go, I will do, the things the Lord commands." Their other five children had their own ways of dealing with the grief of losing the baby brother they've been so excited about. I watched in awe at the strength and gentleness of their grieving mother who bravely explained to them in a way they could understand what happened: The babies body wasn't strong enough to live. His heart wasn't growing right and couldn't keep him alive. They performed CPR on him to try and get his heart to start beating again. The cord was wrapped around his neck two times. The doctor and nurses in the operating room were all crying. This was the first baby this doctor delivered that died. His spirit is with Heavenly Father even though his body is left here. We won't be bringing him home. I'm proud of you for crying because it means you understand what's happened and it will help you feel better. What should we name him. What about a middle name? Thank you, Barry family, for trusting me to be there. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve.

9 comments:

c-dub said...

love you. thank you for sharing. prayers for all.

~j. said...

They will forever remember your service to them. Bless you, and bless them.

Brenda said...

Such a tender, sweet entry. The photos are unbelievable. They capture the very essence of life and family. Thanks you Shannon for sharing a "Tough Day". God Bless the Berry Family.

Sarah said...

Shannon, thank you for having the strength to take those beautiful pictures. What a blessing. Don't think you know me, but I'm in Redmond 1st.

La Yen said...

I love you. Thanks for doing this.

Erin said...

Shannon, the pictures are so beautiful. I was scared to look at them but they were so touching. Thank you for sharing your talent with them, and all of us.

Lauri's Photography said...

beautiful and touching.
I love you friend.

Amanda said...

Shannon, thank you for spending so much time with them. Amy treasures the pictures already. It is such a great way to share Calvin with her family that is far away. It is and was therapy to have those pictures taken for all the kids to be able to view Calvin again and see themselves with Calvin. So grateful your talents and your williness to share them! Love to you my friend!!!!

luckyzmom said...

Your tender and geverous heart overwhelms me. Bless you and the family with strength, comfort and love.