March 21, 2017
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1as we drove to the park, I reached for her hand.. ‘I’m really happy that you asked me to do this.’ I said. ‘who else would I ask?’ she replied. a few months ago, elsie called me saying that she wanted a simple portrait… basic head and shoulders shot, nothing ‘fancy’. I was over the moon ~ if there was anyone that I wanted to capture, it was elsie. neither she or I are fans of having our photograph taken, so this was a dream come true and we chose an afternoon for the session. ‘of course you are the one to take it,’ she continued, ‘your mother took her first steps with me…’ I had heard the story a million times, but I never tired of it and during the ride she shared more memories, including a pretty hysterical moment about my parents that was new to me. the truth is, there really isn’t anything about my family that elsie doesn’t know. nicknamed ‘elchie’ by my mother when she was a toddler, elsie has always been there through every chapter of my life… big and small, happy and sad ~ in times of celebration and those of mourning. the first summer after my parent’s divorce, I came down to the shore to stay with my grandparents and she found me in my room, crying. I immediately stopped and pretended that I was fine. I was horrified and so embarrassed. she came and sat on my bed and told me that crying was the best way to clean the soul and that it was a good thing.. I was 8 years old, I was sad, and scared, and angry, and she made it okay for me to feel all of those things. she made my world safe. as I got older, she would giggle at my tween struggles whether it was ‘tragic’ puppy love or the panic of not finding the perfect outfit – but she would always listen and always help. the night before my grandfather’s funeral as she sat with me, my mother, and my grandmother around the kitchen table, it was her that shared stories that had all of us laughing between the tears. she knew how sick I was 15 years ago but stayed silent, prayed for me, and let me figure it out… but once I told her I had done something about it, it was the first and only time I ever saw her cry. when mom was diagnosed, she was the first person to the house and it was her kind eyes that I sought out before I walked down the aisle on my wedding day. I knew all of these things, obviously – but it wasn’t until I was editing these photographs that I felt the full weight of everything that elsie has meant to me. as we drove back to my house, she commented that it had been 10 years since my father’s passing and we both sat in the reality that they were all gone… then said she gave my hand a little squeeze and said ‘but you’ve got me.’ I love you

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