We wanted just one smile, one little ray of sunshine to peek out from the clouds in our tiny subject’s face. I asked his mom if he could count “one, two, three” with us, a game that usually engages a reluctant child. No, she said, he lost that ability when he developed the brain tumor — but he’s alive, she quickly added. “We’ll take that.”
We are just one of many studios who volunteer to create black-and-white portraits of children and their families for Flashes of Hope, a brilliant organization dedicated to supporting those who are battling childhood cancer. We set up at Minneapolis Childrens’ Hospital and spend a morning in the company of very grateful people. Yes, they’re thankful we’re taking their portraits, but that’s rightly eclipsed by their deep and profound gratitude for life.
How often we wake to each new day without acknowledging it was given to us. How often we take for granted the priceless opportunity to once again taste a strawberry, see a vivid color, feel a tender kiss, or just do something that says, “I’m here!” Children with cancer, along with their moms, dads and siblings, don’t have the luxury of wasting a moment. They focus, they savor, and they appreciate.
A morning in their presence is humbling, but it’s also uplifting. It leaves us with renewed wonder at the breathtaking beauty and sacred value of each human life.
(To help fund the purchase of photographic gift prints as well as vital research in new childhood cancer therapies, visit www.flashesofhope.org and consider giving generously.)