Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A daughters love for her mother.... and a story to change your life..

April 11th 2013

My day started as any average Thursday. Woke up at 5:30am. Poured a cup of my favorite french roast, fired up the Mac and began my day. Never would I think this day would change me, as a person, as an artist, as a friend, as a daughter....   

As most people on Social Media, I love reading my messages and catching up with the overnight drama that was posted... Guilty pleasure, I know, but I do enjoy saying good morning to my "friends"... 

When I randomly received a friend request, from someone I did not know, have never met, or spoke to... I assumed it was a fellow photographer with questions or someone that has seen my work from afar, so I accepted it... Never did I think this person would change me... 

As I went on with my day, one by one checking off the many tasks of the day. I remembered I had to start preparing for Mother's Day Photo shoots... This time, I had something new in mind... Contemporary Glamour, surely a Mother would love to receive this!! So, like any other good facebook addict, I did a shout out... I did not know, I would meet a new friend... 

Shortly after I posted my request I received a private message from my earlier friend request... 

"Hi Kym- I'm not sure how you ended up in my timeline but I'm glad you did/ I feel as though you were meant to. I saw your post about mother and daughters. I am 33 and my mom is 63 and she is my best friend. Her inner beauty just shines straight through. I know you would be happy and excited to photo her. Not sure where you are in CT. but if you're interested in us, I'd love some beautiful pictures of me and my mom. Thanks Kym and thanks for the beautiful images you capture so amazingly!"

Something Just told me, In my gut, this was special... How many daughters would respond so quickly about having images of her and her mom?? She doesn't know where I am, or what I cost, she doesn't know me, heck she never spoke to me... 
So, I tell her, call me... 

As soon as I got on the phone with this girl I knew why I had to photograph her and her mom... She spoke so lovingly, and sweet about her... She loved her so much it brought tears to my eyes... Literally brought tears to my eyes during our conversation... 

April 16th, was the day for their session... When they walked in, I instantly felt comfortable, as if I've known them forever... I wanted "The Story" but that wasn't the time, it was time to take gorgeous images of them to cherish forever... While looking at the images, I saw a story... A DEEP story, being told in their eyes... A story of love, strength, unbelievable will and courage. A friendship between Mother and Daughter that you don't see everyday... They moved together like life long best friends with stories lingering in their eyes... 

I've since finished those images and cried like a baby just viewing them... When I asked my new friend what "The Story" was... Then it all made sense... Here is her story.....

My mom and I have always been close, but what made us even closer were our scars. We are just the everyday kind of women- we aren’t supermodels and have the stretch marks to prove it, but we love what we do. We work hard and love our families endlessly.

What made us closer is definitely not the “average” story though…

In March of 2012 my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She immediately had a lumpectomy and began intense radiation treatment soon after. This was heartbreaking for my family because we had been through the pain of cancer once before. 

In June of 2005 at my son’s 1 year routine checkup, our Dr. gave me the news that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The lumps in my neck that were biopsied were not just swollen glands. The cancer had spread to my chest and after a portacath was placed near my
shoulder with a tube running through a vein directly into my heart, I began 7 months of chemotherapy. After a few rounds of chemo, I started to lose my hair and felt as though I had lost my identity at the same time; there was too much change and heartache all at
once. In October of 2012, after my pet scan, we found out that the chemo did the trick and I was in remission.

When my mom was diagnosed however, I always wanted to think ahead and be ready for the next step because I didn’t want her to think about it- I didn’t want her to worry.

Before we knew that she wasn’t going to lose her hair, I had done some research and was going to have my long hair made into a wig for her. She always said that she wasgoing to “rock the eye makeup” if she was going to lose her hair, but I knew what it was like, and I wanted her to be prepared to feel the way I did. Luckily she did not lose her
hair, but I did end up donating 12 inches to “Locks of Love” to “pay it forward.”

Hearing that my mom had cancer was very traumatic for me- I never wanted to have her feel sick and weak as I did- I wanted her to live for such a long time and watch my two children grow up and be around to hold her newest grandchild. You see, I found out almost to the day that my mom was diagnosed with cancer, that I was pregnant with our third child. We all saw my pregnancy as something to “get us through” the next couple of months of my mom’s treatment and day to day happenings. To be honest, it did- it made people hopeful.

My mother finished radiation in mid August. After daily radiation therapy in the morning, she would drive to work her normal 12 hour shift in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at CCMC (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center). To this day, I don’t know how she did it, but her strength wouldn’t get her down. She carried on and pushed herself because that is what she knew. She doesn’t know how to “give up”. About 2 weeks after the good news, that my mom’s radiation treatments seemed to work, our son was born. His due date was December 19th, 2012. On August 31st, 2012, our son Calder was delivered via emergency c-section at only 24 weeks along. Having a NICU nurse as a mother, I knew this wasn’t good. She came to our side when we needed her most and was at the hospital to help my husband and I understand what was happening to our son. She was there to watch her only daughter and son-in-law hold their newborn son as he died in their arms- only 37 hours after hearing him cry at his birth.

My mom still goes to work in the NICU at CCMC and still brings her passion for helping those babies and families when they need a friendly face the most. She is truly a blessing to everyone she meets.

As for me, with all this hurt that I have felt, I knew I needed to do something more with my life- realizing how fragile life is, I needed to make a change- I needed to make a difference. For the first time, I was listening to the universe as it was telling me that I could do more. I took a leave from an 8 year tenured teaching career to become the first Program Director at The Hygeia Foundation. The Hygeia Foundation comforts and supports those who grieve the loss of a pregnancy or infant. In addition, we strive to improve awareness of the impact of pregnancy and infant loss on families. (www.hygeiafoundation.org)
This job was meant for me- I was meant for this job. It is hard, I am not going to lie, but the feeling at the end of the day when I look back and see the difference I have made or the difference I am striving to make, is immeasurable. It was a giant leap to take, but I honor my son; I honor Calder with every life I touch.

I cannot hold him, I cannot kiss him, I can only dream of him and know that someday he will be in my arms again. The only thing I can do is honor him and make society aware that this happens. Mothers lose their babies more than we know. It is a terrible thing to think about which is why it is not spoken of, but we NEED to talk about our babies- we need to hear their names.

Some may think that Calder helped us all get through my mom’s cancer diagnoses,some may think that he led me to where I am now at Hygeia or helping me get on my way to become a professional bereavement counselor; the truth is, we may never know what Calder’s purpose was. All we can do is appreciate every second of our time here, learn to love deeper and strive to be amazing. My mother has taught me all of these things. She is that soul on this earth that loves endlessly and only knows how to be amazing- even when she doesn’t think she is. I am lucky to call her my mom and I’m lucky to have her here......  with me.

There are days as a photographer, where I doubt myself... There are times I wallow over the demands of being a small business owner... But then, there are people like this, that magically make it into my life... That change it with their stories, and I can capture that twinkle in their eye that brings me so much joy.. I'm doing what I'm meant to do, I'm following the path I'm supposed to travel... Its amazing people like these, and many many others, that confirms I'm closer to god through my lens... Melissa and Kathy, you're such beautiful women, and I'm so blessed to call you my friends.. Here's to the beginning of a long friendship... <3
Happy Mother's Day.. xoxo


  1. Wow, absolutely beautiful images first off. Second, made me cry of course. I wish my mom was still here to have mother/daughter photos with. This is a great idea and this mom and daughter duo are perfect. Overcoming such odds. Wow. That's all I can say is Wow.

    1. Thank you Sandy... The story sure is inspirational... These ladies are gorgeous in every sense of the word and I'm beyond blessed that they were brought to me..

  2. beautiful: the words. the images. the love. the strength. the connection.

  3. Your new friend is a very special person. Because of her, I am the person I am today. Her smile touches everyone, and it welcomes us to share our stories.