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Blackbird Photography

Stephanie West
Blackbird Photography
SLC, UT.
About 3 or so years ago one of my very, very best friends received news she had cancer. She recovered and celebrated when she had been clean from all cancer for a year. Then, something unspeakable happened about a year and a half later….

…her husband died in a car crash. It was devastating. I flew out to be with her and was in awe of how she handled herself. She is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known, always has been, and this just proved that even more.

They had dated from the time they were 13, got voted “couple most likely to get married” in high school, got married and were then blessed with a daughter. Man oh man, I’m starting to tear up already. Our daughters are only a few months apart, it was so exciting (even though I live in Utah and she lives in Chicago). I’m telling you, this lady is SPECIAL. Everyone who knows her feels immediately blessed to have her in their life. She brings so much joy to others just by being herself. And that’s exactly what she is, herself. All the time, she has no shame, and that’s what I love most about her. She’s raw, unedited, and unbelievable.

I think about her a lot and miss her SO bad. I miss meeting her on the corner where our streets met to walk aimlessly around the neighborhood, making each other laugh so hard we couldn’t stand up. Literally. Luckily, we still keep in touch, but it’s just not the same. And I always feel guilty that I can’t be there with her whenever she might need someone, even though she already has an AMAZING group (large group) of people who support her and are there for her.

She is re-marrying in August and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be apart of that. The man she is engaged to has been there for her since day 1. He is totally deserving of her and trust me, I don’t say that lightly.

A few months ago I asked my sister-in-law’s friend if she would model for me. I wanted to tell a story through photographs about how my friend might have been feeling and maybe still feels, about it all. I spoke with her and she said the idea I had was pretty accurate so I proceeded with the project.

My friend was always so calm, so positive, so faithful about the whole situation. I know that she wasn’t ALWAYS like that, but that’s how it seemed on the outside. I knew inside, she must have felt anger, sometimes. That’s what I wanted to create in this project. I wanted to show the outside of this person (my friend, me, you, anyone going through something awful) acting calm, putting on a smile, contemplating about life, wondering when the pain will go away but never asking out loud. And then showing what may actually be going on on the inside. Anger, frustration, defeat, hate, aching, hurt, abandonment… scared.

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