Two of these angels are Michelle and Amber. Strangers in our lives until June 30th, 2008 ...angels ever since.
On Monday, June 30th, we learned the heartbreaking news that Branson's heart was no longer beating. Our world stopped with that news. We were in shock. Sometimes I think back to that day and wonder how our lungs even managed to keep pumping air, how our hearts had the strength to keep beating, or how our legs had the courage to keep walking.
I remember coming home that night, our minds in a fog....what?....why?....how? I remember these questions circling over and over again though my mind. As we sat on the couch in our living room we couldn't do anything but hold each other with tear stained faces and broken hearts.
Luckily, my parents had been with us that day at the hospital when the news came. They made the difficult phone calls to family and friends, they coordinated things with the doctor and hospital, and kept our world afloat.
Later that evening I remember my dad came into the room to tell us about a phone call he had just received. Someone from Utah had called to tell us about an organization of photographers who offer their services free of charge to families who's babies are born still. My initial reaction was..."what? Wouldn't that be weird? Am I going to want people I don't even know in my hospital room taking pictures of my with my baby who's dead?...I couldn't quite wrap my mind around it. I wasn't quite sure how to respond.
Then we brought Rob's computer into the room and went to the website that told more about these incredible, and we were able to see some of the beautiful pictures that they had taken of other families...and something spoke to my heart...yes, this was something we needed to do.
We found the phone number of one of the photographers in our area, and my dad made the call and set up a time with them for the next afternoon. On such short notice, they must have dropped whatever else they had going that day...families, their businesses, their lives...to help someone in need.
At 4:00 the next day, their was a light knock at the door...and two people walked into our lives...Michelle and Amber. They entered the room with quiet respect, an understanding smile, and countenances full of love and light. We introduced them to Branson, and they made us feel like we had the most beautiful baby they'd ever seen.
They went about setting up their lighting, and they had even brought their backdrop along with them. They just started snapping photos. They didn't pose us, or ask us to do anything that we hadn't been doing all day...we just held our little one...and they captured it!
They captured his every feature...his toes, his hands, his perfect little ears, his long feet, his cute little nose. They captured the love and loss that his grandparents felt. They captured pictures of him in all three outfits we had him dressed in that day. They captured a proud daddy, and a new mommy. They captured the sweet, tendure moments that we shared with him...but best of all, they captured our family...just the three of us.
They took their time...they didn't rush. It almost seemed as if we were the only people in the world that mattered to them at that moment. They finished up and said their goodbyes, and left as quietly as they'd come.
Even at that time, I didn't realize what a gift we'd just been given. I didn't fully appreciate or understand how much those pictures would mean to us, or how precious they would become. We had taken our own photos at the hospital that we developed quickly and cherished very much, but we waited anxiously for the email that had some of the professional images attached.
About a week and a half later (very fast for how many shots they had taken, and considering they still had full time businesses to run) we received that email. Rob and I sat together on the couch and opened the first attachment....and we were speechless...it was the most beautiful picture I had ever seen in my life. Branson looked so perfect, just like the angel he was.
Since then there hasn't been day go by that I don't look at the pictures these two women took of our little one. They make up his website, his memorial video, his scrapbook...they fill many frames, and adorn our walls.
There also hasn't been a day go by that I haven't thought about these two earthly angels, and offered thanks to God that they shared this beautiful gift with us. They touched our lives in a way that no one else could. They've helped us heal through their work, they've helped us remember just what Branson looked liked, they've met our angel....they've changed our lives.
I can't think of a more selfless act than capturing the moments shared with families and their babies who've had to leave too soon. Michelle and Amber...thank you! These two words seem so inadequate to explain the gratitude we feel towards you. We love you.
Members of this organization won't take any money for their services, however, they do take donations at their website. Please visit it to find out more about them and this incredible service. Please tell everyone you know about this...for you never know when someone will need this information...
Follow this link to their website
There was also an aritcle written about the organization lately in Newsweek...
Follow this link to read the article.