In Loving Memory

Billie Ambrose
August 30, 1953 - July 11, 2019
Grandma Billie Ya-Ya 

I want to start by saying, please finish this post even though it might be tough to read or hits close to home, but it is written from the heart and has taken me months to write. People grieve in their own time and way; there is no right or wrong way to process the loss of a loved one. Most recently, the loss of my mother in law has reminded me of my love to blog. I do not claim to be a writer; for me, blogging and photography are more about journaling life as it happens, a way of documenting our family and preserving memories.

The loss of a loved one can be hard. Sometimes those you may not "think" you have the strongest connection with are the ones in the end, you feel the most connected to.

Unfortunately, from personal experience, the loss of loved ones started very early for me. I lost my father at 16, then all my grandparents in my late 20's; as we age over the years, the number of loved ones that pass increases. I have lost my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and most recently, my mother-in-law. Billie is really the reason "end of life" photography became a part of my journey. She and I shared a few things in common, the power of affirmations, always wanting to grow and improve our well-being, our love for travel, great food, red wine, photography, and unfortunately, in the end, cancer. Cancer, no one wants that to be a common bond, but it was; at that moment, I think we both needed someone to talk to that felt like the other completely understood what each was going through.

I had a dream recently about my mother in law. In 20 years, I have only dreamed of her twice. Once right before her last diagnosis before hospice and then a few weeks after her passing. I came away both times, knowing her spirit is still strong. As weird as this is going to sound, I believe the purpose of our dreams is to remind us of important memories or milestones in life, maybe even to remind us of life's lessons we have learned, experienced, or maybe to sort through complicated thoughts or feelings. I believe dreams, our dreams, are an insight into our past or maybe the future; either way, dreams can bring us comfort.

My most recent dream was about a trip we shared in Italy. She and I always shared a love for Italy, and we were blessed to travel there once for 8 hours, but it was the best 8 hours ever! We drank so many cappuccinos, ate chocolate croissants, great red wine, and enjoyed the sunsets. We use to talk about "one day" co-owning an apartment in Italy; not many knew about these conversations or shared dreams; it was just a few things that connected us. I believe the dream was her way of reminding me that life is short, and to go for my dreams because "someday" or "one day" may never happen.

What does all of this have to do with "End of Life Photography?" well, Billie always believed in me and my photography and encouraged me to "go for it," but I have always held back. She hated her picture to be taken but always said I captured her so that she felt proud of herself. As a family spending those last moments with her, I was reminded how I wish I had pictures of my loved ones in their last moments. The time spent with grandma Billie was filled with laughter, tears, family, many moments reminiscing, and lots of great food. One of her last words to me was, " eat the cake, Donna," "drink the wine" ..... basically, life is short.

Through our family's loss, a new photographic journey and passion was born. The moments I captured of grandma Billie are personal and private, but most of all, it is my wish they are moments that will bring peace and comfort in a moment of sadness. I put a lot of thought into this area of photography, it is raw, private, and sensitive, but it can also be comforting. When the time is right to reminiscence on the photo, my hope is the memory will become one to cherish forever. I hope my family someday will look back and be grateful for those last moments captured with them reading to her bedside and holding her hand. 

Until we meet again...........


Popular Posts