Melanie Pace is a photographer….a really gifted photographer…who captures life in the moment and somehow captures the hope as well. I have never met Melanie or her family, but I am thankful I had the opportunity to find her blog the other day. You may have seen the story floating around the internet over the last couple weeks. Why do I want to post this story on my blog? I feel like it captures everything I would want my blog to be about.
In 2011, Melanie Pace, her brother in law, Ben Nunery, his daughter, Olivia, and their entire family experienced a devastating loss. My heart struggles with a story like this. A beautiful marriage ends after two years because a young woman dies from a rare form of lung cancer. A precious little girl is growing up without her mom. A sister is trying to navigate through life without her big sister encouraging her along the way. I can’t think about any of these scenarios without crying. My heart protests and says, “I hate stuff like this! I hate loss and pain and brokenness.” Some days it makes me just want to crawl under the covers and ignore life. But this family reminds me of what it looks like to embrace life even though pressing on might be excruciating. On Ben’s blog, he writes, “What I want them to know is that this isn’t a story about grief and loss and hurt. Yes, I’ve gone through those emotions and still do but that’s not what I want people to see in these photos. This is a story about love.”
Melanie is so honest on her blog about how painful this photo session was for her. How much it stirred thoughts of her sister, Ali, and how she grieves all that her sister won’t see or experience with Olivia. And all that Olivia won’t know about her mom. And yet, she chose to take the pictures anyway and what she captured is all of the stuff about hope that I can’t describe in words.
This picture of Olivia is one of my favorites, and I love that she is holding a feather. A hope feather is what I like to call it. You have to read Melanie’s blog to enjoy the sweet story behind this feather as it is her story to tell, but for me, Olivia holding this feather is just a beautiful reminder of how her family has given her the gift of what it means to pursue life in spite of deep loss and grief.
Thanks, Melanie, for letting me post this beautiful picture which encourages me to pursue life, even on the most difficult days.