A Solemn Day…

It was a message we had been dreading to receive. And we just lay there. Thankful for every moment.

I had twittered last Monday that Erin and I had photographed a family portrait that was especially meaningful. The father, Masse, had terminal cancer and as a gift one of Erin’s friends asked us if we would capture him, his wife, and adorable 3 year old daughter together one last time.

Having just checked himself out of the hospital, he had chosen to come home and spend his last days with the loves of his life rather than being hooked up to machines in a cold and sterile hospital.

We arrived not sure what to expect, and began setting up our gear. Nori, his wife, came out leading her husband by the hand, carrying his oxygen tank and taking small steps as he used every ounch of strength he had to walk into their back yard. Their shy daugther hiding behind them clutching onto her Mommy’s leg.

It was the shortest shoot we have ever done, and yet we knew what we were capturing would be looked at more times than any wedding photo we could ever take. Because there, in a little backyard in Northridge, was a man treasuring every second he had left with his wife and little girl. And that smile was something not even as horrible as cancer could ever take away.

Our hearts broke as we received the news last night that Masse has passed away, one week after we captured him and his beautiful family.

Life is a gift, every moment. Take time today to tell those you love how you feel, and if you think of it please say a prayer for a wife and daughter who are missing the amazing man who shaped their lives.

Marilyn - April 27, 2011 - 1:34 am

That is the best gift that you could have given them. I can fully relate and understand what they are going through. My dad passed two weeks after my husband and I got married. Over the 9 years my hubs and I were dating, there was no photo of all of us together – except for one photo taken on our first wedding day in front of my parents house. It wasn’t professionally taken but it means so much to me and my mom. Thank you for doing this for them. I may not know them but I feel for them and can imagine how this dear image will help them through this hard times. My heart goes out to the family. Sincerest condolences.

Gavin and Erin - April 27, 2011 - 1:56 am

Marilyn, we only hope the images we gave to them resonate as deeply as the ones you have with your father. That even until his last days his little girl can look back and know how much he loved her and cared for her.

Natalie Norton - April 27, 2011 - 2:01 am

THIS is why we do what we do, isn’t it? You two are such great examples of selfless service. What a gift you have given this family. You have created family heirlooms that will be passed on for generations. My prayers go out to them, absolutely. Love you two, Nat

Christine Bentley - April 27, 2011 - 7:07 pm

you are such beautiful people for doing this, the smile on their little faces melts my heart……Mat he rest in his life with God and look down upon his family with love and be with them forever, and to you guys, he looks down with gratitude because these photos are exactly that, a gift forever…..more precious than many of us will understand….

ughhhh tears

MarieSam - April 27, 2011 - 7:11 pm

My heart breaks for this family, but I’m so glad you and Erin were able to document some of their last few moments together — what a precious gift. I’m sure these photos will always be a treasured keepsake for Masse’s wife and daughter* God bless Masse and his family.

Lindsay C - April 27, 2011 - 7:20 pm

Oh, wow. Masse’s joy is undeniable, those eyes are so bright and happy. God bless to Masse and his beautiful family who will miss him more than words can say, but will have this joyous memory to hold onto forever.

Faith - April 27, 2011 - 7:25 pm

I think it’s safe to say this is the most beautiful picture you have ever taken. Thank you for sharing. God bless their family.

Courtney - April 27, 2011 - 7:50 pm

So, so beautiful — both the words and the image. Thank you for sharing!

cindy - April 27, 2011 - 8:27 pm

Dear Gavin and Erin, Nori and I looked at all the beautiful photos. Massa was so tired, and yet, when we said ‘Photo shoot today!” He said “Yes, that’s right!” The photos are proceless and I am grateful you allowed me to give Massa and Nori and Kana his birthday gift. Thank you for your compassion and sharing his story. Massa was nothing short of an exceptional human being. I will miss him the rest of my life… but I have a womderful photo to remember him by.
with love and gratitude to you both, Cindy