Last Thursday, I had the privilege of being invited out to my High School Principal’s farm for a family shoot – a shoot that was both very difficult and very rewarding for me.
Firstly, Bernie (whom I am now allowed to call Bernie) was not only the Principal, but also my Grade 11 English teacher. He was the first teacher I ever had who recognized how easy English was for me and how bored I was with the usual curriculum. He also noticed the creative spirit inside me and allowed me to explore that creativity by coming up with my own study topics. I chose to study Parody and did an entire project based on recreating my own take on Monty Python and the Holy Grail – on video – with old school costumes and modern vernacular. I spent weeks working on scripts for that video, rehearsing the parts with my friends, making costumes and props, etc., and by the time it was finished, it was something to be proud of. It was hilarious. It was well done. It was, by far, the best way to keep my attention because I was learning about something that I was interested in.
My dad recorded the 1992 Masters Golf tourney over the only copy I had…:(. That is an entirely different story.
Regardless of the video’s inevitable demise or the big, fat “A” I received in English that year, the experience was something I will never forget. Bernie made me realize that I thrived when my creativity was given free reign…so to speak!!!! He was one of the driving forces behind who I am today and what I do for a living. I don’t think it’s very often that people have the chance to catch up to a teacher or mentor years later to give him or her a head’s up about how influential he or she was. Bernie, I just want to thank you, in front of the whole world, for seeing something in me that I didn’t even see in myself.
I think that your caring nature and ability to seek out and assess each student’s potential and talent is the difference between someone who is meant to be a teacher – really meant to be a teacher – and someone who becomes a teacher for a steady paycheck and a pension.
Secondly, Bernie’s grandson, Brody, was a premie. He was born right here in Kamloops at only 29 weeks and, against the odds and unlike our Cora, he survived and is thriving.
Shooting him called for some serious soul searching on my end. Can I handle this? Am I going to lose it without warning? Am I capable of getting through a shoot that is focused on a kid who was only one week younger than Cora when he was born, yet is healthy and alive? So many questions ran through my mind and the most difficult part was that I had no answers. How could I possibly know how I would react in that situation unless I actually put myself into the situation? I generally avoid all situations that have the potential to open up tentatively closing wound in my heart.
Two things decided me on this shoot.
The first, Brody is no longer a newborn and it is the newborns that are nearly impossible for me (and Greg) to deal with. The older a baby is, especially six months and onward, the less the pain affects me.
The second, a little boy who went through all that he went through to survive deserves my gratitude and awe, not my resentment that he is alive and my daughter isn’t. I know that sounds harsh, but anyone out there who has lost a child (especially a baby) will understand how jealousy, envy and resentment can crop up from a plethora of situations involving anything to do with what we’ve lost. It’s a natural reaction, especially during the grieving process, and it’s counterintuitive to fight these feelings rather than let them run their course and purge themselves from the psyche. This shoot was just what I needed to keep dealing with these feelings and remind myself that life just happens and there is no rhyme or reason to it. I forget that so often these days and, even though it is one of the most impossible lessons I’ve had to learn lately, I have learned it and continue to relearn it time and again.
And so I rolled up my sleeves, pushed the familiar ache into a corner where it wouldn’t bother me and headed out to shoot.
It was both one of the most difficult shoots I’ve done (mentally) and one of the most fun. Aside from shooting Brody with his grandparents and his mom, I also had the opportunity to shoot two little girls who were visiting from Australia with their parents. I could have listened to their little accents all day long and all the kids were seriously adorable. The shoot was actually really good for me and I had a few moments of that genuine, bubbly laughter that only kids can bring on without intending to. I don’t get many of those moments these days and I left feeling a little lighter of heart.
Here are some of my faves from the shoot.
I also want to thank Bobbi, Brody’s mom, for being so incredibly patient and allowing me the time I needed to process my grief until I was ready to do this shoot for her. I am humbled by your generosity and compassion and grateful for the extra time you gave me to get head screwed back on. 🙂
Have a good Monday, my friends. I wish you all enough…