Occasionally my role as photographer brings back memories of the days I worked as a nurse in a critical care unit. Most times we as humans love social interaction, but there are times in our lives that feel almost sacred. Times when we want to be alone or to share with only a few people we know well. And yet, in those moments, sometimes we need someone else present. Whether it is a rite of passage such as birth or death or a life-changing event such as marriage, sometimes, we invite a virtual stranger to come alongside.
Trespassing on someone’s sacred life moments is not a privilege I take lightly. A few years ago, that sometimes meant sitting in the CCU consult room as family members listened to a doctor’s grave prognosis …. sometimes it meant a hug, a box of tissues, or an offer to call the chaplain; but most of all, it meant staying with them to answer questions and stand alongside as they watched a family member journey to the other side. Now, I hide a few happy tears behind my camera as I capture those beautiful, emotion-charged moments between a bride and groom immediately after the ceremony. As always, trying to be there without being there. Unobtrusive, yet ever ready.
When a friend of mine lost her baby at seven months gestation, I found myself once again on sacred ground. Death, like birth, is filled with emotional extremes. A rite of passage we mostly prefer to experience privately. And suddenly I found myself feeling those same indescribable feelings inside. Whether it’s holding a hand around a CCU bed or helping the mommy of an angel baby preserve the memory of her baby’s face, I find my soul quietly shrinking, yet expanding. Touched with a sacred whisper from God.