He handed me his iPad with an opened article and said, “Here you go. You can get to know a little bit about my wife before you meet her.” Stepping onto the hotel balcony, I took a minute to just take in the scene. The ocean was a perfect shade of blue, mirroring the cloud-less sky. I inhaled deeply, letting the familiar scent of salt and sea-weed fill my lungs. The sound of the water surging and retreating onto the sand made for a relaxing sound track as I began reading.
Everything around me became more and more muted as I fell completely engrossed by the words in my hands. I re-read each paragraph, wanting to take in every last word. I was trying so hard to really wrap my head around all of it. I read about a girl faced with challenges that surpassed my nightmares. I read about her unwavering faith in G-d while trudging through the hell and high waters of living with cancer. I read about her dance on a thin rope between life and death, all the while keeping her face towards life. I read about the heroes in her story…her husband, her parents…herself. I read about miracles. BIG miracles.
I was brought back to reality when I heard the faint noise of the hotel door open and sweet voices chitchatting. I got up to meet the awe-inspiring woman I just read about it. There was something about her energy that felt so gentle, so soft, so kind…so angelic.
My goal going into every photo session is to tap into the vitality that drives the family in front of me and with this family there was such a massive, huge, incredible amount of it. I wanted to see it…I wanted to feel it when I looked at their pictures. I hoped I would be able to capture every bit of it.
As we pulled up in front of my home after we had spent the afternoon shooting, I was struggling to find the right words. I didn’t know how to properly say thank you to Zev. To Miriam. To Chana. I felt changed from meeting their family and I hoped the feeling would stay with me. Through them, I was reminded of the fragility of life, the strength of faith, the importance of family, the urgency of being present in each gifted moment of life. I felt grateful and humbled that I was able to take away such a tremendous gift from what was such an excruciating journey for them.
I encourage you to be inspired by their story. You can read Miriam’s article on Chabad.org by clicking this link.