I spent 15 years trying to convince my best friend to be in photos with her kids, her siblings and her parents.
Today, the images we created last Mother’s Day are her most treasured.
I felt like this was not my story to share, it felt somehow uncomfortable and still very sad for me to tell.
But my dear friend Allison encouraged me to share this. With you.
Last Mother’s Day, I spent the day with one of my favourite families, doing the thing that I love.
Making them feel special & beautiful whilst celebrating & creating memories of life, love and relationships.
But this was not like most other photoshoots.
And we were all aware.
Only 2 days before, I learnt that Allison’s mum Jean, the lady who I had known like a 2nd mum since I was 8, was told she had just months to live.
The woman who as a kid I thought was so beautiful and glamorous, as a young adult was a role model for what a woman could achieve on her own terms, and who as an adult I laughed and celebrated family time with.
For months before we had all remained optimistic whilst she started chemotherapy.
Jean had fought and beat breast cancer many years before.
She was tough and even though life had thrown quite a lot of challenges at her, she was a fighter and never let ANYTHING get in her way.
This news was devastating, not only to me as someone who had loved and shared so many of my own life moments with Jean.
But also as a friend, to someone who was facing losing their mum.
I had no words and did not know how to comfort her or the rest of the family, who are like my own.
It was only during a photoshoot the day after I had heard the news, that it dawned that Jean was up from Sydney to spend Mother’s Day (the next day) with most of her grandkids.
This was the chance to capture the photoshoot that Jean and I had talked about (but never managed to plan) for years.
And it was serendipitous that Sally (long time friend of Allison also) was working with me in the studio that afternoon – everything was aligned, this could happen tomorrow morning.
I had to ask Aria if she didn’t mind giving up her Mother’s Day (she had been planning for weeks) so that her cousins (we call Allison’s kids that) could have their last Mother’s Day with their Grandma.
Her face dropped and my heart sank as she (only 10) had to comprehend what I could not even really grasp in my adult mind.
This was a whole new territory for me as a mum and came up so quickly I didn’t even have time to plan how to manage her reaction.
She knew at once, understood and asked how she could help.
That moment made my Mother’s Day.
Mother’s Day morning, I ran around my studio, trying to make it the very best it could be.
I hadn’t seen Jean in months, and had no idea what to expect.
I wanted the day to be perfect, and yet only had time to do a quick run to the supermarket to get a few nibbles and champers to make it extra special.
Most of all I was devastated and emotional. And if I was feeling like this, how would all the others be?
But when Jean arrived, all of that flew out the window.
She was so positive, so calm and so still her soul.
Still so full of life even though it seemed like life was fighting her body to take it away.
Here I was celebrating Mother’s Day with one of my most favourites families.
It didn’t matter that Jean’s hair was falling out in clumps, it didn’t matter that you could see the toll the day was taking on her in small bursts.
She hugged her grandkids, embraced her girls, she sipped on Verve and she absolutely glowed after Sal put her final touches on.
Behind the scenes there were a few teary moments when she wasn’t in the room, instigated by music or a glance.
There was sadness as a few family members were missing.
But Jean for that day – her last Mother’s Day – well she was just in her element.
They all even went out for a special lunch after.
A day for all to remember.
Today I am just so thankful for that day.
Not only for Jean & her kids, but even more so for the grandkids.
Some of them most likely did not understand what they were a part of.