cherish : an unplanned journey : honoring a dear soul

Today's post is very near and dear to me. It's a little different then the portraits I usually take. My sweet friend Tara asked me to take this special portrait to honor where she is in her life here and now. I photograph beautiful souls all the time but this beautiful soul, I have to tell you is completely stunning and utterly inspiring. 

Tara and I would like to invite you to go on this journey with us.

We discussed where she wanted to do this special portrait and she said she had visions of running through trees in the snow. We decided on Kenosha pass and as we made our way through the mountains a snow storm hit. We hoped for snow and scheduled our photos based on that forecast but we didn't expect such low visibility and dangerously icy roads, but we continued on. Sometimes life takes you down roads you don't plan on, to new places you never imagined traveling to. Knowing our intentions with this trip and Tara's story this felt like a necessary part of our journey. We made our way up the mountain safely and just when things started to take a turn for the worst we drove out of the storm and into the sunshine as if it was a gift from above.

I'm blessed to tell stories of love and light but in life, there is often loss and heartache. The special story Tara asked me to honor with photographs is one that I don't share lightly. Tara and her husband Tim are some of the most beautiful people in this world. Their generous spirits, boundless hearts and overwhelming kindness are just a few of their amazing qualities. Their faith in God is incredibly strong and their ability to weather storms together is beyond inspiring. In many ways God had prepared them for what would come next.

After years of trying and praying for a little baby, Tara and Tim received the wonderful news that they were expecting their first baby. Tara is a dear soul and she has been a mother her whole life. She takes care of the people around her like they're family. She creates art that engages and welcomes in people of all ages and walks of life in a way that I've never seen before. In every aspect of her life she is a mother, so when she found out she would have a child of her own, her heart burst with joy. In this moment, everything became clear and trails of adversity and heartache she had experienced somehow made sense. This little baby was prayed for, dreamed of and already loved more than words could ever express.

It turned out that God had another plan. One that is difficult to understand if at all and will take time to process and move on from. Tara and Tim lost their little angel before it had a chance to be delivered into this world. It's unthinkable and difficult to put words to. This loss is something that many families experience. Knowing this possibility and how common it is doesn't make it any easier or prepare our hearts for this unbearable loss.

When Tara asked me to take these photos, I held back tears. Tears for my dear friend who I had walked with on her journey as she tried for a baby for many years. Tears for my dear friend who is already an amazing mother. Tears for my dear friend who has never wanted something so much as to be a mother to her own child.

As we arrived at Kenosha pass it was quiet and calm. The sun was shining above us and the snow glittered with light. We drove through the trees and a snowy meadow that welcomed us with open arms and held us as we honored this little baby.

Tara wrote a letter to her baby and buried it in the snow. She careful cleared a space and traveled until she reached the earth. She kissed the letter as if she was kissing her baby's cheek and lovingly placed the folded paper into the ground. She covered it with love and laid upon the snow for awhile. I sat in silence with her. Snow gently blew through the wind and glittered in the sun. It was as if the earth was taking a deep breath with us.

As we drove through the mountains, we talked about God, loss and the wisdom we find through adversity. We contemplated life and raised questions to God. Why would he take away this little baby? Why after such a long journey to get pregnant would this happen? Is God really invested in our everyday lives? Why do things happen so easily for some people while others have to fight so hard for what they want in life? These difficult questions are often the ones we stumble upon when life has taken a difficult and painful turn. Where do you go as your faith falters and your heart is broken into a million pieces? The only thing I could think to tell my dear friend is that I believe you must struggle to gain access to the great wisdom and light in this world. Wisdom shared through generations that travels through the world, an undercurrent that not many have the privilege to tap into. A wisdom that gives strength, clarity and the ability to breathe when you feel as though your heart has stopped.

I believe that God takes us to places we can't understand because we're not meant to. If we knew everything already our journey would no longer serve a purpose. Our hearts and souls have more depth than we'll ever truly know and these trials in life are invitations to dig deeper and feel more than we ever imagined was possible. I can't say that I understand what happened to Tara and Tim and frankly I'm angry with God that this happened to such incredible souls. All I can do is trusting in this process of life, this giant experiment of humanity.

The hardships I've faced in my life have always taken me to new places of love and light. New places that were never on my map. For Tara and Tim, I have to believe that as they write their own story and follow their path there will be great joy, love and light. I don't know two more well equipped people to journey through life together and two more amazing souls to raise a family.

I'm honored that Tara asked me to photograph her story and to share it here. It was a very special portrait to experience and document, 
one that will be in my heart forever. I hope it will help her heart heal and perhaps offer a hug of support to other families 
who have been taken down a similar path.

These last words are Tara's to her little baby.

Love and Light,


  1. Heather!! This is SO beautiful. I love you for doing this for Tara. I had no idea they were going through this. Tim and Tara really are amazing people and I am so blessed to know them. About halfway through the photos I lost it... I felt so much of what was being captured. It is so hard to undersand why God allows these things to happen but I love your perspective and am so grateful that you shared your thoughts with Tara. She is so blessed to have you as a friend.

  2. this brought me to tears, heather - the photos and the writing. your portraits are like no one else's, truly.

  3. are such a source of light in the world. The work you do is meaningful and genuine. I'm glad we met. Thank you for sharing!
    xo Julie