Where. To. Start?! Two months ago I had never really met Hannah, or Luke. However, 15 years ago I met Heath, Hannah's brother. We became fast friends my freshman year in high school. I ragged him about Auburn football and he made fun of my monkey toes. Even at 15 years old I knew that Heath was a one of a kind guy. He was sincere, HILARIOUS, a bonafide goofball. He was devoted to the Lord, his family and friends, and his music. Heath was incredibly talented, in fact he and I were voted "Most Talented" our senior year. He went on our senior trip with a big group of friends to the beach, where every morning our whole crew was serenaded by his singing. My friendship carried on with Heath through high school and onto college and beyond. Dating and marriage happened for me, and unfortunately with that comes losing touch with friends, making new ones and starting a new season of life. One of my last real moments with Heath was the night before he moved to Austin. He and I met up at Scruffy Murphy's, a local Irish Pub in town. We enjoyed a couple of drinks and I listened to him talk about his passions and his dreams, along with all he hoped to accomplish with his music in Austin. It was the last night I ever got to hang out with my buddy. He moved to Austin, I met my husband and got married, and life happened. We kept in touch, but not like we should have. And then, in an instant, he was gone.
For those of you that know me, or live in Columbus are all too familiar with what happened to Heath. It rocked our community to its core. It rocked me to my core. Heath was tragically and senselessly murdered when he came home for lunch and walked in on a robbery in progress at his home.
I've lost friends to illness, I've lost friends to sudden accidents, car wrecks etc. All of them changed me, made me realize my immortal teens and twenties were in fact very mortal. As the years passed I eventually had closure with each of those untimely deaths. But with Heath, with murder, I don't think there is such a thing as closure.
For a while I have been angry, oh so angry, for many reasons. Angry that the greed of silly material things took a man from this Earth that was doing great things, angry that as much as Heath loved, that he wouldn't get to marry the girl I had heard him describe so many times, angry at the huge gaping hole of pain this idiot puts Heath's family through. And angry because I kept waiting for closure and it never came.
In comes Hannah. A story where Facebook Friends became Real Friends.
Hannah and Luke, have a love story I'm sure you'd only think existed in the movies. Their love story literally started the day of Heath's funeral. Luke was one of Heath's good friends, and invited Hannah out that evening to hangout with him and some of Heath's friends. It was the beginning of their courtship. The flicker of love, blooming in the shadows of such sadness.
I had seen Hannah and her precious growing bump popping up in my newsfeed time and time again. And each time, I would get a little pang in my heart. A thought of Heath and the AMAZING, CRAZY uncle he would've been. And with each post I felt the Lord continually telling me to reach out to Hannah. I wasn't sure why I at the time, but at the end of this whole process to me it was clear.
I asked her if I could help her in any way with photos. Did she need maternity, newborn, or even birth photos. I know birth photography isn't for everyone so I wasn't sure how to offer it without potentially sounding crazy, since after all, we were just Facebook friends. I told her that I wanted to give her a gift in honor of Heath. To my surprise and excitement she said yes to the birth photography! The only catch I had two mom's booked already, all with due dates near Hannah's. So the whole time it was a wait and see to see if the timing would line up for me to be able to shoot the arrival of precious Moses.
November 20, 2014: I got the call and all was perfect! I found a sitter and rushed to the hospital. Hannah was like this stunning Greek Goddess of maternal strength. I've never seen such grace, humility, and power exuding out of a person all at once. Hannah wanted to labor naturally as long as she could! She had such a phenomenal birth support team, her husband Luke, her precious mom Angi, and her doting mother-in-law. They all got Hannah through the toughest parts, both physically and emotionally.
Hannah, after a very intense contraction and hours of labor, broke down, and in a sentence finally exposed the big pink elephant in the room. Through tears, she simply cried, "I miss Heath." There it was, 3 words that everyone in that room had been thinking, but couldn't bring themselves to say. We miss Heath.
Moments later, Heath made sure he let his little sister know he was there with her. Even in the painful valleys of labor, her big brother found a way to comfort her... with music. Angi had Pandora playing a Praise and Worship station, and through the words and music of David Crowder, Oh How He Loves Us, Heath showed up. It was played at his funeral, and now it was played during the delivery of his nephew. Thank you Jesus for giving new life and new meaning!
Some time spent in the laboring tub, an epidural, and a few contractions later it was time for Hannah to push. Their amazing midwife, Julie, somewhat jokingly asked Luke if he wanted to catch his son at delivery. Before he could answer, again jokingly (but totally wishing he would), I answered for him... "YES! He would". Much to my excitement and surprise Luke was putting on his gloves, he was ready. Julie, delivered Moses's head, and Luke gently cradled his son's tiny body and brought him fully into this world.
Symbolically it is an awe-inspiring thing. I think of the baby, growing in the safety of its mother's womb, delivered into the strong and protective arms of its father. I truly wish more dads were given this opportunity, and that more dads would jump at that opportunity like Luke did.
Remember how I said I wasn't sure why the Lord told me to reach out to Hannah, but to just listen and trust in Him. Well, the day spent with Hannah, Luke, and Angi, all of us (including myself) loving on her, supporting her, getting to know her, and then being able to witness this new life, this miracle. It brought me a new friend. I won't ever get Heath back, and I won't ever truly get closure to how he was taken from us. But I learned of their love story being born in tragedy, and because of that love, a new life is on this planet. And because I trusted the Lord, I have a new friend.
Hannah and Luke, you are an inspiration and your story and love have forever changed me: as a wife, as a mother, even as a photographer. I am so incredibly grateful you let me into this intimate part of your lives and trusted me to tell this story for you. I pray I have done you all justice.
As you watch this video, the first segment is Luke and Hannah singing a little diddy they jokingly recorded a week before Moses was born. And funny enough, a week later, on Thursday, Moses was born, a THURSDAY SON.
Our local newspaper also did an amazing job writing this story as well, it has more depth than what I'm giving you here and more details and viewpoints from Hannah, Luke, and Angi, click HERE to read that post.
A special thanks goes out to Julie, their midwife. My heart smiles with joy when my birth clients come to me and tell me they are using the midwives at Trinity, because I know we are all about to witness mothers being cared for by women who truly love their jobs. It is just a different experience!
For more information on booking your birth session click HERE.