It was Saturday June 14th. The day of my ten year high school reunion. I booked a session with Maria that needed to happen that day, due to her husband being deployed the following day and wouldn't return until too close to the birth of their daughter for any photos. We had planned to meet at Forsyth park for a few photos where they had their first photo together, to be followed by sunset photos on Tybee Island. I got off work at 5:00 and slowly but surely, mother nature turned against us (or so we thought). It started pouring rain, thundering, lightning, everything the exact opposite of what we needed to happen. We started thinking that sunrise was our only option, but as the skies started to clear around 7:00 pm we made the call to skip the park and try our best to make due with the time we had and just take the photos on Tybee.
I am so glad we made this call. The rainstorm had cleared and the sun set sky turned a beautiful blue/yellow/pink canvas that we couldn't have painted. It was gorgeous. And there was hardly anyone on North Beach to crowd our shots. As we walked to our first location Maria began showing me some of the props she had brought for her photos. Among them were some yellow baby flip flops (Maria's favorite color), Red Chuck Taylors for the whole family, and then the one thing that got me... a small red cardinal.
Unknown to Maria, this had a significant impact on me. She had brought it as a token to represent her husbands father, who had recently passed away. This moving gesture would have been enough to make you cry while taking photos in and of itself. However it was like a sign to me that I have been making the correct choices in my life by choosing to do this thing I love.
on May 18th, less than a month prior, my grandmother "Amma" passed away. It was the hardest thing I have dealt with in my life thus far. Amma was like my mother, in all aspects. She raised me, she supported me, she was my best friend. I have spent the last 8 months watching her be slowly taken away from me by Liver Disease. Every day a little more of her left us until finally there was nothing. She started talking to me about her fears and sadness leaving me. She told me over and over that after she was gone, any time I saw a red cardinal that would be her just checking in on me as she always did. With her last trip into the hospital she lost all cognitive ability. Her brain was finally taken and with it her other organs began to shut down. We said goodbye at the hospital as family and watched her leave this world.
Soon after, I started seeing red cardinals. There was two in my front yard a few days later. Within a week one was in the back yard. It was comforting and sad all at the same time. It had been at least two weeks since I had seen a cardinal, and it was starting to make me a little despondent. Not that I thoughthat she wasn't still looking out for me, I just liked the reminder...
Then Maria showed up with the Red Cardinal and I was speechless. I am still a little too torn apart to talk about Amma much, any time I bring her up I become too overwhelmed with emotions to carry on a conversation about her not being here. But internally, I found a reminder of her comforting, and I couldn't help but spend the whole shoot smiling on the inside. I can't express how much I needed a silent reminder that she's here, and I am so glad I got to take Maria's photos for her.