Yesterday was a very special day for me. I am grateful for so much in my life but yesterday I was filled with gratitude in a new way. I was up at Hasbro Children’s Hospital photographing for an organization called Flashes of Hope. It was set up by a woman who lost a child to cancer and regretted not having more photos of her child before he passed. Flashes of Hope invites children and their families to come to our “set” to have portraits done while they are at the hospital on one of their visits to get meds., chemo or a check up.
I arrived in the morning with two Salve Regina photography students in tow. We set up shop in a small room at the hospital along with a make-up artist who volunteers her time once a month for this project and an amazing couple, Theresa and John, who run the Providence chapter of Flashes of Hope. They lost a daughter to cancer a few years ago.
As the children started to come in with their families I got in to my mode of engaging the child with my own childish ways. We got playful, kind of silly and then moved on to the backdrop. Some of the kids were not able to walk well so special care was needed in some cases. The kids were just like any other kids; shy, outgoing, talkative, opinionated about how they might like their picture to be done and smiley, except…they had cancer. Some had outward signs of hair loss or weaker bodies but man could they warm your heart. “Addie” came in with her baby sister (who was all chunk and dimples) and agreed that a touch of lipstick might be fun for her shoot. She came over to the makeup table and said she would like red. “Red is the BEST color ever, but you don’t want to put on too much because it would just be… ya know…. too much. It would be too crazy, like all over the ceiling crazy.” She was all of 5 years old but was so sure of herself. I was in love. Another child, “Luke”, did not want to be in the photos, he wanted to take the photos. We put his mom and grandmother on the backdrop and he came over and looked through my lens. I asked if he could see them and he said “yes, press the button.” So I did and “Luke” got the photo he wanted. He was so happy and then thought it might be fun to be in the photo now.
Each child warmed our hearts with how strong and brave they were. I am sure what they go through on a daily basis is not easy or fun yet they are still beautiful little souls who are living life the best way they can. I give so much credit to the parents who come in to the shoot with smiles, support, love and a bit of a tired look in their eyes. They must go through a roller coaster of emotions on such a deep level every day.
I want to thank the Salve women who helped me out yesterday. They got up early, carried equipment and helped with the shoot for a good part of the day. I was grateful for their support. I want to thank the children for the honor of documenting their precious lives and smiles that warmed my heart in such a big way.
My ask of you all today is to notice how you help others today and everyday. Hold a door for them, tell them you love them, offer a helping hand to someone or volunteer your time for those less fortunate. You never know what they are going through. You will never loose and if anything you will be more rewarded than you can imagine. The parents of these children were so thankful for Flashes of Hope, for helping them create beautiful memories during a difficult time. We all have a gift to share whether it is a smile, a hug or the ability to be a photographer, so share your gift, give it away a lot and you will always be helping yourself too.