Earlier this week someone asked me how I got involved in storytelling and photography. I explained how photographing my son, Kane, in the NICU and throughout the early part of our lives as a family was a way for me to process what was going on. It was also what led me to volunteer as a photographer for families staying at Ronald McDonald House in Edmonton. That conversation got me thinking about how much I miss photographing and connecting with families in hospital. And I started to think about whether I have the capacity to start doing that again.
As life would have it, a few days after that conversation, I received an email from a woman I had photographed with her daughter five years ago at RMH in Los Angeles. Sheryl explained that her daughter, Trinity, had passed away in 2021 and that she did not have copies of the images I had captured. She was wondering if by chance I still had the photos. Sheryl ended the email by saying “I miss her so much I hope I can see the photos of us.”
Friends, I did have the photos!
I called Sheryl and we looked through the photos of her and Trinity together. This is exactly why photographing families in hospital and at RMHC was so important to me. Because we can’t predict what will happen. We don’t know how much time we have with loved ones. And the details are important.
Sheryl, thank you for reaching out. I’m so grateful that I was able to give you back these images and stories with Trinity. But, you have also given me something…a reminder about the power of documenting our lives.
The following is the original blog post I wrote after meeting Sheryl and Trinity.
Original Post – March 7, 2018
I met Trinity and her mom, Sheryl, on my second day of shooting at Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House for my Momenta workshop. They were totally open with sharing their story and instrumental in connecting me with other families at the House. Sheryl had a relationship with many of the parents there, in part because of the amount of time she has spent at the House, but also because she immediately stands out as someone who will share a laugh or listen to a concern. Trinity knew every kid we came across. Kids would run up for a hug and she would spend a few minutes with them before going back to what she was doing.
Trinity was at Ronald McDonald House waiting for a new heart. She was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome at birth and when I met her she had had three open heart surgeries. This photo story shows a quick glimpse into her morning; the medical necessities, as well as the commitment to her education. She was in the middle of preparing for SATs!
And in case you haven’t seen it, here are the images I submitted for my final project for the Momenta workshop. The images are accompanied by the song, Made to Love, by my friend Lisa Nicole Grace.
When I was writing this post last week I had texted Sheryl to clarify a couple of details to add and got the news that at they were at the hospital after receiving a call about a heart!!
Trinity had her transplant and is now recovering from the surgery. This is phenomenal news for Trinity, as well as for her family. Her dad and siblings stay at home and only come to RMH on the weekends to spend time together as a family. RMH’s tag line is “Keeping Families Close” but the reality for long term stays is that some families need to split up because of work and school. This transplant means Trinity’s family is one step closer to being together.
The news of a transplant is a little bittersweet because for someone to receive an organ another family has to say goodbye to a loved one. My heart goes out to Trinity’s heart family. I can only imagine the pain and grief they are dealing with, though I am in awe of their decision to donate. I have registered as an organ donor and my husband and I have had a conversation about our wishes. Have you?
Trinity, I am sending you positive energy. I wish you a speedy recovery and no complications! Thank you for sharing your story with me.