Sunday, November 13, 2011

Illuminate ~ Week 1 ~ Storytelling

For the next 5 weeks I have the privilege in participating in the online class for photographic healing called Illuminate. I’m very excited for this course and to see what comes out of it. I’ve decided that for this class I’m just going to focus on my daughter Carleigh. I feel my healing for Jordan is much further than it is for Carleigh and I would benefit most by focusing just on her.

This week’s assignment is about storytelling. We are to write a letter to our baby/babies and also take self portraits of our journey. Well, letters can certainly be emotional to write and it wasn’t easy getting the right picture that I felt comfortable enough with that captured what I was feeling in thinking of that pose. But I managed to do as best as I could.

So here goes.

My precious Carleigh,

I still remember the day I found out I was pregnant with you. It was August 10, 2008 and I was so excited. Your sister was only 7 months old and when I found out you were a girl I couldn’t have been happier because that was what I was hoping for. I wanted to have 2 girls close in age like me and my sister.

I never imagined that you would be diagnosed with something fatal and not be able to come home with us from the hospital. Stuff like that always happened to other people. But it was soon the reality I was facing. It hurt a lot and I cried many tears over it all. I still loved you though and I was going to cherish our time together however long it may be.

I never knew how much joy and sorrow could intertwine before. It’s like a beautiful and bittersweet dance. And you were totally worth it.

I’m thankful at least for the months we had to plan for your arrival. It gave us time to think about what we wanted and to make memories with you along the way. I don’t think we’d have as many keepsakes as we do or been as prepared if we hadn’t had that time. I consider it a blessing.

I’ll never forget seeing you on the 3D ultrasound. It was really the only time I got to meet you alive. (2D ultrasound just isn’t the same!) I don’t think I quit smiling the whole time and I fell even more in love with you. I got to see you kick and move and suck on your fists. I could really see your sister in you!

But seeing you on that screen could never compare to seeing you in my arms even though you were already gone. I didn’t see what was “wrong” with you but I saw pure perfection and beauty. I saw Heaven that day and I couldn’t take my eyes off of you.

Those moments with you are some of the most precious in my life and I cherish them so much. Some days I wish I could go back and experience you all over again. Though we got time with you it wasn’t nearly enough. But is there such thing as enough time to last a lifetime? I don’t think there is so I will be thankful for what I had.

Baby girl, I miss you a lot and I wish you were here to grow up with your sisters. I promise they will always know who you are and how special you are to us. People will undoubtedly begin to forget about you as more and more time passes but I will never forget. I still think about you every day even 2 1/2 years later. It is impossible for me to forget you because you are as essential to me as breathing. For the time you lived on this earth you were a part of me and death cannot break that bond.

I love you always and without limits.

Until I see you again,

Here are the self-portraits I took.

039This picture is me holding the necklace I wear almost every day. It is Carleigh’s cross necklace with her hand/footprint pendant and her baby ring. I often slip her baby ring on my finger like in this picture and rub it. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

045One of the first pictures I knew I wanted to take was of Carleigh’s belly cast. I created it just a week before her birth and it was painted by Stephanie at Beyond Words Designs over 2 years later. This cast to me captures all the moments she was alive.

046Another picture of Carleigh’s necklace only on my chest close to my heart.

055The sculpture sitting on my belly is Carleigh’s angel sculpture from The Midnight Orange. It seemed fitting to rest it on my belly since that was were she lived and died.

056The butterfly on this flower is from Carleigh’s 2nd birthday cake.

057I knew including Carleigh’s memory chest in a picture was important as it holds all of her precious keepsakes. The chest itself is a treasure as it was handmade by my aunt and uncle epically for this purpose. I included my I Love You hand sculpture from MoonlighAura.

061This last picture is me holding my Carleigh Bear-weighted to the same weight she was at birth, which was 3 lbs 15 oz. To me, this picture is looking into the light of the future. The hope of seeing her again one day.


Franchesca said...

Holly, your pictures are stunning!!!!! I especially love the one with your belly cast <3 I am so excited to see that you are taking part in this! xoxo

Melissa said...

Beautiful, Holly. I LOVE the one of the belly cast, it is just stunning!

Fireflyforever said...

Such amazing, powerful, beautiful words and photographs.

Laura Beck said...

I love your belly cast shot and the window with the teddy bear shot. The lighting is beautiful.
I have a necklace similar to yours, except mine is of my son's feet, and I too find my self rubbing the surface of it, even kissing it, without realize consciously that i am doing so. <3

Beryl said...

Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into the story of Carleigh. Your images this week truly capture a range of emotions but the one with the belly cast speaks to me. What a gorgeous tribute to your daughter and the processing you did gives it such an angelic look. Also the light in your last image is just perfection. xo.

Liz said...

Your photos are beautiful and the belly cast is truly amazing. I have not seen something like that before, but what a wonderful treasured piece to have.

Kristie said...

Your photos are beautiful Holly! I especially like the last one. Your letter is also very moving. Thank you for sharing Carleigh with us.

MommyIvy said...


Anonymous said...

Wow Holly! Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. The belly cast photo is so creative. Your photos truly captured your emotions.

Mary said...

vous avez fait un super travail. On recent l'amour, la fragilité, la tristesse, le manque et l'espoir

Jennifer Ross said...

Oh, sweet Holly girl, you have me in tears, and unable to breathe when I look at those AWESOME pictures. They are absolutely beautiful.... just beautiful!!

Cecilia said...

Phenomenal, you are quite the photographer!

Anonymous said...

Holly, loved your pictures!! Would love to know where you got the necklace, I think I've seen a website for them but can't remember where also would love to know where you got the teddy bear! thanks for sharing your beautiful letter and pictures!

Sarita Boyette said...

Holly, this is so beautiful! The letter, the pictures, all of them combine to illuminate Carleigh's essence. The one of you leaning on her keepsake chest is especially meaningful to me. I am so glad you had a chance to make memories of her before she passed. xoxo

Kelly @ Sufficient Grace Ministries said...

This is soooo beautiful, Holly-girl. I love the amazing pictures!

Beautiful, beautiful you...and beautiful Carleigh.

Love you!

Post a Comment

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

Thank you for leaving a comment! I love receiving them and I read each and every one!

Remembrance Jewelry, Memorial Keepsakes
My Forever Child - Remembrance Jewelry, Memorial Keepsakes, Sympathy and Decorative Gifts to comfort those touched by the loss of a Child. Personalized, Engraved & Handcrafted Miscarriage-Pregnancy Loss Bracelets, Baby-Infant Footprints Charms, Custom Necklace Pendants with your child's Footprint, Handprint image or photograph.