I didn't say goodbye to my grandmother, but I did look her in the eyes and tell her how much I loved her before I caught my flight home. I spent a short week at home with my parents in late October, just 1 week following her diagnosis with late stage pancreatic cancer. Not once during that week did we talk about anything melancholy - even the days were bright and unusually warm for Calgary in late fall.
My family is small, with a polite closeness between us. We're traditional photo opportunists with every birthday and Christmas filed away in the family album. Photos have always been important to me. Lasting mementos. And I simply cannot pass up documenting moments, because without them I am lost.
Photography is as much a part of my identity as my relationships - both are entwined. As I reflect on my life I cannot help but wonder how many families, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, lose the opportunity to record their important moments for those who cannot remember.
In her last days, my only gifts were photographs - tidbits of daily life through an aesthetic lens meant to share as a blessing. I am thankful for what I have, even more thankful for what I have had, and overwhelmingly grateful to be able to passionately create what I can.
As I gingerly tried to find beauty in a painful situation, I witnessed what unconditional love truly looks like. Not beauty in a traditional sense, but in emotion - tenderness, compassion and empathy.
I will always remember how much she loved and cared for me. I will always strive to show love like I was shown, in moments like these.