This warm, nostalgic portrait represents a family, a strong womanhood, who have braved the vicious battle of cancer. The endurance of the sick and the courage of the fading never ceases to awe me. When I first received the photograph, only knowing a small part of its significant, my heart twisted to take in such strong, delighted smiles spread widely across faces representing three generations. Their evident joy is so contagious. The more I take it in, I am provoked. Their elated fellowship invites me to enjoy and cherish my own family in such a free way. I also particularly love the two little ones in the front of the group, and how within them they seem to embody life and promise and future and hope.
A consideration that sweeps over me more forcefully than any other element about them is this: Their treasury of each other in this photograph is so incredibly powerful, even before death and grief touched them. For most, sickness, death, and grief are cruel teachers of cherishing those we love... It is my belief that this family walked in daily appreciation of each other during the season of warmth and life-- and that is truly a rich blessing.
Yet, this band of warriors has certainly experienced horrible loss in the past few years. They lost Aunt Judy (far left) to her battle with ovarian cancer just a few short years ago, and sweet Nana (center) also passed away this past year.
Currently, Aunt Janet (Second to left, redhead) is fighting ovarian cancer that has unfortunately traveled to her brain. Aunt Janet is undoubtedly the inspiration for this piece..
I don't know of a more humbling experience than attempting to capture the enduring spirit of this family. Such loss and grief have never touched me personally. I simply cannot comprehend what it must be like to feel such significant parts of your family missing from your presence. Considering such a reality is devastating.
This piece has entered a deep part of my heart. I have never met Janet, or the rest of the family. (I was commissioned by Nikki McDaniels, a friend of mine whose boyfriend is the nephew in this family.) I am not sure that I will ever get the chance to.. But whether I do or not, their story, their bond, their reality has truly happened to me. My heart, my mind, my spirit feel so privileged that my hands were used in some small way to honor them.