They had nothing about them that would indicate greatness. Two photographers, each with a camera around their necks, sitting in a hospital waiting room.
But greatness they had, and hope they gave. And they had no idea.
We met them on one of the saddest days of our life, when hope became a memory, and appeared unattainable. Their mission: take pictures of the babies and their parents and extended family, after the baby dies. For ten years they had shouldered this burden, or to them this privilege.
When we met them, little did we know the journey ahead of us, working with those who had ‘give up’ lurking, and ‘hopelessness’ beckoning.
“And how long have you been doing this work?” I asked. “Oh, it’s not our job, we are professional photographers, but this is our passion.”
Usually I want to know Why? when someone tells me something I don’t quite ‘get.’ Family legend has it that I asked the obstetrician who delivered me, mere seconds after the grand entrance, (June 2 for those who are givers), “Why did it take so long for me to enter this world, and why was my mother screaming all those unmentionables?” I doubt if this is really true, but it does help make some sort of sense of this obsession of mine. It is easier to think I was born this way.
So of course I asked them why would any two reasonably sane people intentionally put themselves into the mess of pain and loss, and not charge a dime for their services. I expected some sort of ‘this happened to us’ explanation, but was stunned to hear the depth of their motivation.
“Well,” they began awkwardly, “We lost all 5 of our children while they were infants. Two were still born, and three others died before their first birthday. We just have to do this. We can’t really say why. We just know we must.”
Funny thing is, this couple, who had experienced unthinkable losses, actually appeared hopeful – hopeful that their lives were worth living, in spite of the constant pain.
There is always hope. At times though, it sure is difficult to find. But find it we must.
And here is another Why? question: Why do some turn their anchors to sails, and others never get out of the dock, and their boat is wasted. It never sails the open seas at all, much less around the world.
An answer that helps me, and hopefully helps those who read this, is to believe a fundamental core value, a belief that can truly help me get up in the morning with purpose – There is always hope. Therefore, I will not give up.
Our goal at Spark of Life is simple: To give hope, that though life can never be the same after loss, life can still be rich and fulfilling. At every retreat we see hope return, and learn once again the words that keep us doing this work:
There is always hope.