Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Zaac's 2nd Annual Birthday Celebration

Two years ago today, a little boy who changed many lives was, as his mother puts it, born in to heaven, but his existence affected many people.  For his parents, of course, most dramatically.  Their first and only son, their miracle baby, was taken away, a horror no parent should ever have to deal with.  For his aunt and grandmother, who were there at the hospital.  And for me - I had signed up to be a volunteer for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep some months before.  I had taken the training seminar and I had not taken a few assignments that I probably should have.  Maybe I was busy or maybe I was scared.  Maybe the time just wasn't right.  But Zaac was my first and I will always remember him.  His family and their friends will always remember him.

To celebrate his memory, on Zaac's first birthday, his parents Susan and Steve took the advice of a friend of theirs - "instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourselves, go do something no one would expect."  So they went sky-diving.  A few people went with them.  This year, they made into more of a party - a bunch of them camped out the night before and in the morning more arrived and they made the jump.  I got there later than I wanted due to an unexpected (and very long) detour but arrived just as the first sky-divers were about to land.  Perfect timing after all!

 Watching for the parachutes

Prayer circle

Susan laughing about the rip in her jumpsuit.  Steve seems to not want her to show it off

Going out the gate

Susan and Steve coming back from their landing

Susan hugs her sister Belinda, who is holding a teddy bear wearing Zaac's going home outfit

I watched and took pictures, of course and talked to all sorts of interesting people.  Susan introduced me to everyone saying that I was the one who had taken the beautiful photos of their son.  It was wonderful.  After the sky-diving, there was food and a surprise from their out-of-town friends who had driven in with their 5 kids just to attend Zaac's birthday party.  The suprise?  Balloons and a helium tank.  The owner of SkyDive PA kindly let us set off the balloons in the field, which was amazing.

 The kids went straight for the veggie plate.  They eat healthier than I do!  Seriously, did you see the cookies in the picture above this one?
Surprise balloons!

 Writing a message to heaven

 My balloon

The balloon release was beautiful
Steve and Susan, holding one of my photographs of their son Zaac 

After the balloon release, I talked to Susan, who was more than happy to give me permission to make this post sharing Zaac's story and hopefully letting others know that celebration is allowed along with grief.  They are still happy to have had their son, even though he was not able to go home with them.  His birthday party is an annual event and he is still loved by so many people.  I talked to other moms there too, and listened to their stories.  Those I'm not going to share, but you never know who has gone through what.  There were happy things too - the woman who gave Susan and Steve the idea to skydive was there with her husband and 4-month-old daughter.  They're chiropractors specializing in maternal and infant adjustments, which is so interesting!  I didn't know that was a thing.  I gave a mini lesson to Lydia, an aspiring high school photographer who, from what I've seen, has great potential.  Her nature shots are seriously awesome.  These last couple pictures are taken by her - after hours of watching people land and thinking "oh, maybe that wouldn't be so bad" I decided to go against all my instincts (and my rather intense fear of heights) and get on a plane with Belinda only to jump out of it.

This is Lydia, by the way.  I was demonstrating different focal lengths and apertures with my various lenses.  It was really fun!

 Belinda, Susan and me

This is me.  Skydiving.

 Hugging Susan when I made it back to the ground.  I was very VERY happy to be back on land.

Seniors 2013 - Alex and Ryan (plus elena got a new camera!)

Monday was an exciting day.  After I got home from work I spent some time waiting anxiously by the door for the arrival of my new camera!!  Pentax K-5, it's pretty fantastic.  Luckily it came a couple hours before I went to go do my cousins' senior pictures.  They're identical twins and I THINK I can tell them apart in these pictures.  Sorry if I screw up, guys!

The first couple test shots with the K-5 were actually of their dog, Emma, who is I believe an English Setter and ridiculously gorgeous and very sweet.  Of course she was difficult and kept wanting to come over to me instead of stay still but I got a couple good ones.

Then I started photographing the boys.  I started with Ryan and then would switch to Alex while Ryan changed and back again.  Sometimes we shoot do both of them together, or with Emma.  I think they got a kick out of me trying to keep track of who was who.  So these are all of Ryan - nice shirt, cross-country uniform (there are also some fairly amusing ones of him rounding in their backyard), with the pretty puppy, and all suited up.  Their school requires them to get yearbook photos from a specific photographer so we didn't do any with the plain backgrounds I usually use.  My new muslin ones are so much better than the paper I've used the past few years though, it was a great investment and I can't wait to pull it out again!  As for the new camera, well, I think that was a pretty great investment too.

Awww!  Ryan doesn't look thrilled to be having his picture taken.  Boys are like that it seems, but fear not, guys!  It really isn't that bad!  Alex was a little more smiley although I can tell you're faking it in some of these.  Not surprising that their best smiles are in the pictures with Emma - she's a great dog!

 And of course, since Alex and Ryan ARE twins, we had to get a couple shots of them together.  I think in the first one they're conspiring against me.

 And to finish it out, another picture of the beautiful Emma, stopping to smell the flowers!