Meet Lauren. She is 7. She like barbies, mermaids, playing at the park, singing and dancing, and LOVES her family. She has mitochondrial disease (you can read more about her story or donate to her fund HERE).
This is one of the hardest blog posts I have ever written. What words can possibly be enough to describe a little girl with a terminal disease? I am simply speechless that this family let me into their home for three and a half days to document their lives together as a family. Writing this is a selfish effort to make myself feel better. It is not working…
When our good friends called to tell us that their daughter was diagnosed with mitochondrial disease and that it is terminal, we were simply crushed with the pain of knowing our friends were having to deal with this heartache. I sat at my computer one night going through old photos I had taken of Lauren and cried. I can’t tell you how my heart hurts for this family. My husband looked at me and said, “You know what you have to do.”
I did, but how did I tell my friend that had just found out that her daughter won’t live long enough to graduate from high school that I wanted to come and capture their lives together before her disease totally debilitates her? Well, I said just that. And cried some more.
I am so honored to have been a part of their lives. I am touched that they opened their home and hearts to me, if only for a few days. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I don’t know how I could ever do her life justice, but I hope that I have captured her spirit.
It was also very eye-opening to be so near their daily struggles with this disease and the fear of what the future will bring. My heart was flayed wide open and I don’t go a day without thinking of them and what they must be going through. In just the few weeks since I was in California to take these photos, Lauren’s condition has deteriorated. Her cognitive abilities, as well as her physical abilities have been affected. Please read more about her life HERE.
As a special gift, some close family friends and people that have been touched by the Francis’ have donated enough money to give them a very special custom photo keepsake memory box, as well as some prints and a family album. Thank you all for your donations and for being a part of this very special gift for this family. I am always amazed at the generosity in others’ hearts when given an opportunity to share.
PLEASE READ MORE about Lauren and her daily struggles with mitochondrial disease HERE. You can also DONATE HERE to her fund and help her family with all of her extra medical and care expenses. If you do nothing else and don’t have time to click on one of the links above to Lauren’s Caring Bridge site, offer up a prayer to whomever you pray to for Lauren and her family.
As sad as I am, I am also happy. Happy to have known this little person with an old soul and know how much joy and sunshine she has brought into many lives. I love you all and thank you for allowing me to capture these priceless moments for you.
Sunshine Soul Photography
Kailua Hawaii Photographer