How Photography Healed Me in the Storm

Life was good in March of 2003.  We finally got to bring our preemie baby girl home from the hospital to meet her brother and two sisters.  I was ready to leave the hospital behind and more than ready to get back to the normalcy of a stay at home mom with “littles.”  My baby was going to be OK, my other children were happy, and we were getting ready to celebrate eight years of marriage that year.  Life was good…maybe too good.

On March 11, 2003, I woke up early because my husband, Gary wasn’t in bed.  He sometimes got up early to go for a run or get a little work done on the computer before the house was awake.  So, I went to look for him.  That morning began my journey…one that I never asked for, never wanted, never thought would happen to me.

My husband had a heart attack and died of cardiomyopathy in the middle of the night.  I found him the next morning. He was 30 years old. My biggest fear came true, and my life changed forever.

After the initial days and weeks of shock, I began to see the necessity for me to move forward.  I didn’t want to and even fought against it.  It wasn’t fair. Most days I just wanted to crawl up in a ball, sleep and eventually wake up to a different world, the old world I knew.  But, I had babies that needed me, and no one else could be their mom.  They kept me going, moving forward through my grief journey.

One Day at a Time

Several months had passed in a blur, and I began to get back into life, one day at a time.  A photography friend approached me during this time and asked me if my family and I would like to model for a family photography session where several photographers were trying out new cameras.

At first, I thought, “Um, NO…why would I want pictures of myself and my kids without my husband?  It’s too soon, too much, too fast.”  My friend was gentle and accepted my denial.  However, after I told him “No thanks,” I began to think about it some more and decided maybe it might be nice to have new, professional pictures of my kids.

Little did I know at the time that those pictures would be a vital part of my healing.  As I played with my kids during the photo session, we had fun and laughed for the very first time together since Gary died.  I later put those pictures on the walls of my home, and it reminded me daily that I could be happy, life would go on, and I had a purpose.  They healed me.

How Photography Healed Me in the Storm 1
How Photography Healed Me in the Storm 2

Life After the Storm

My grief journey and these very pictures inspired me to give back.  I never knew how powerful a picture could be until I experienced it for myself.  Several years after my husband died and life became a bit more stable, I decided to take my passion for photography to the next level. I began taking meaningful pictures for friends and eventually I started my own business as a Portrait Photographer and have been working professionally for nine years.

I look back on the hardest trial of my life and often wonder.  What would I be today if this never happened? Would I be able to take the pictures I do with the same connection, the same passion?  If I could, would I go back and change anything?  My answer would have to be “no.”  It certainly took a while to get to this point, and it certainly didn’t happen overnight, or even in a year.  I have felt over the years that the Lord was molding me.

It isn’t always my choice how or why the trials of my life come to me.  But, they come, and they are what I need to grow. The Lord’s timing is not always our timing.   I know He wanted me to gain wisdom, to help others and to realize the work I needed to do.  I believe the greatest pearls of wisdom come out the stormiest seas. And I wouldn’t trade my storm for anything.

I believe the greatest pearls of wisdom come out of the stormiest of seas.”

When I launched my business as Family and Portrait Photographer, I decided to honor my experience and add “capturing your life’s journey” to my business name.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for helping me to realize my potential and giving me a unique journey, with a road less traveled.  And in the words of Robert Frost, “It has made all the difference.”

Road Less Traveled

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3 thoughts on “How Photography Healed Me in the Storm”

  1. What an amazing story. I love that you now get to use what has saved you as a purpose for others. You are a strong woman!!

  2. I am in tears reading Jolie’s story! We were with her during this time! She has passion and purpose in all she does!! Always looking for ways to help others!! She has lived more experiences than most and made each a lesson!! She has raised and is still raising strong children!! Her walk with God is strong and yes he carried her through tough times!! Her rainbow is the life she has now! Great husband and children and parents that couldn’t be prouder!! She is amazing and remains humble, always!!

    1. She is amazing! I feel blessed to call her my friend and to learn from her whenever we are together! Thank you for sharing your insight, Lois!

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