I knew yesterday was coming.
I knew that at some point, Erwin would leave this world.
But it just seemed too soon.
Just about a year ago, I had the honor and privilege of photographing Ed + Erwin and their two sweet sons. It was a hot summer day, but we made the best of it. We took photos all around their home in Virginia- being silly, being sweet, being quiet, having fun.
This session wasn’t much different from other lifestyle sessions, really. Rambunctious boys, adorable matching clothing, trying to keep cool on a warm day.
The only thing different was that I was representing Wish Upon a Wedding
, a non-profit that provides weddings for couples battling terminal illnesses and life-altering circumstances. Erwin was battling stage iv, non-small cell invasive adenocarcinoma (nonsquamous) with metastasis in the brain, bones and abdominal lining. But Erwin was fighting hard, already beating all the odds. He was upbeat and ready for a fight.
After our shoot, Erwin made a delicious lasagna for dinner. I enjoyed getting to spend more time with this wonderful family. And this guy could cook. He even made me take some home, so my husband could enjoy it, too.
Ten years after they met, these two were officially married in DC. Sadly, less than a year after their special day, Erwin lost his fight with cancer. On June 7th, Erwin passed away.
To say it hit me hard would be an understatement. Some might say, “but you only met him for a few hours.” It’s true. I only spent about four hours with Erwin and his family. But within those four hours I saw the power of a strong family. I saw the power of a fighter; of someone who was not going to give up, no matter what. An inspiration to his family, his friends, and anyone who knew him- Erwin gave people hope and showed people like me what it meant to work hard and to be loyal.
Yesterday I attended the celebration of Erwin’s life. I can’t call it a funeral, because it really was a celebration. Yes, there were tears. His friends and family miss him. But the theme of the day was “Love NOW.” Say “I love you” now, not later. Fall in love today, don’t decide to tomorrow. Fall in love hard and deep.
After the service, everyone was invited outside to tie a message to a white balloon and then release it. It was a beautiful moment. I was glad to be there.
Erwin, you were so loved.
You have an incredible family and loyal friends.
It was an HONOR to know you, document your family, and to celebrate your life.