Our last recipient of the Scott Ringel Anniversary Remembrance Giveaway was Alison. I've held back from blogging all of these sessions because I knew I'd have to come to Alison's story, which needs to be told. I want to tell it, but some stories are harder than others.
Alison was nominated by her friend Sue. Sue's letter is as follows:
I would like to nominate my friend Alison B* to win your photo session with her family.
She is the single mother of 3 beautiful children. June 16, Eric 14 and Izzy 11.
She also has breast cancer. Again.
My first memory of Alison was at her 5th birthday party. Maybe it's the pictures from then. Maybe it's because my father was friend's with her father. Doesn't really matter. We went through elementary, middle and high school together. We were friends. High school came and went. We went our separate ways. I sent her a note when her Dad passed away. Then Facebook happened. We reconnected as adults. With the same upbringing of our parents, of our town, of similar friends, we became close again. Then cancer struck.
After a year of chemotherapy and radiation, which was completed in December, she was given a no "evidence of disease". Today is February 15th, and this week she was diagnosed with metastatic inflammatory breast cancer.
Please read about her here. I don't think I can add more to this email than for you to read about her. She is absolutely amazing.
Thank you, Sue"
I immediately reached out to Alison to get her session planned. Waiting for the right day, making sure she was healthy enough to drive down for photos, planning the wardrobe, it all took a little while but on a beautiful day in May we met at Sayen Gardens in Hamilton, NJ for a family session. Alison was feeling good, and the children were happy to be out with their mom for the day. I had been keeping up with Alison's page and I knew exactly how important these photos were going to be and I think the kids did too, because there was none of the usual teen annoyance about coming out for portraits.
The family walked together and smiled at me and at each other. Alison and I talked briefly in hushed tones about her health but most of our time was focused on taking portraits to show the beautiful connection between this loving mom and her amazing children. Group portraits, candid photos, photos of all of them together and photos of each child alone with mom. I'm loading up a lot of photos for this one because it was just such an important, fleeting, special time.
After the session, I cried in my car.
I delivered the session as fast as I could and also mailed out some photos to Alison in early June.
Less than five months later I heard from Sue that Alison passed away on October 1, 2019. As Sue said, "She fought long and she fought hard. But she was tired and ready to go home.I want to thank you for allowing her the day with her children and the photo shoot. She raves about what a great day it was and how special she felt. Thank you again for giving her and her children beautiful memories."
I cried again. And went back and read Alison's Meal Train blog to see what she was thinking and feeling during her last months. Having lost my own husband to cancer, I often wonder about his feelings at the end. He wasn't one to write about things or even talk about it. So I have to thank Alison for giving helping me to turn the pages of my own story and give me some closure with her words. I'll let her speak for herself, taken from her Meal Train blog:
"I am not alone and tasks that seem daunting are doable, If I can’t do something- someone else can. I’m so grateful. I am so blessed. It is a blessing to have people want to be by your side when you are down and out. If you are lucky enough to have people see you to the very end- what could be more beautiful?"
"Even though I keep speaking of dying, I’m going to do my best to live the best I can each day. Appreciate my health where it is now at this moment and hope that I can get healthier. Enjoy my kids and all the people in my life and create wonderful memories because there are more to be made!"
"Which ever way the wind blows, I will always marvel and be humbled by all the love and support you have given me. Some joke that I just have a black cloud permanently above my head but it’s not true. I am surrounded by love every day."
Thank you Alison, for teaching me about hope and helping me to move forward.
If anyone would like to read about ways to support Alison's children, check out the Meal train Blog where there is a continuing group effort to do good things for June, Eric and Izzy.
And that wraps up our special Scott Ringel Anniversary Remembrance Giveaway, the first edition. Maybe if this pandemic eases up, we can do it again in February. I'll end this series with a quote, from one of my favorite shows, "Call the Midwife." The show deals with a lot of life and death and moving forward and has some of the best quotes. When I heard this one, I knew I would use it one day and today is the day.
"Some pages take longer to turn than others. It doesn't matter if the spotless sheet follows a blotted one or if the preceding lines are blurred with tears, What went before is erased or embraced, as we begin another chapter."
Here's to new chapters after pages blurred with tears. Thank you to all of my Anniversary winners for sharing your stories and especially to Alison and family for the incredible inspiration and closure you have given me. All my love. Onward.