…but God is great! Karina has leukemia. This is the fifth time I’ve photographed her and her family since her diagnosis a little more than two years ago. This first photograph was taken last October when I spent a lovely day with Karina, her little brother and her mother at home (the one of her in her Yankees hat was also taken that same day.) I was touched by her “life is good” hat — and I know it’s a moniker for a company, but those of you who know the family understand it’s an understatement to describe how they live.
Karina has had it tough; so has her family. Even still, her eyes and her spirit are bright, hopeful, faithful, enduring. She is a very, very brave and strong little girl, and so loved. So loved. Her mother inspires awe with strength that is unbelievable to observe. Her father shaved his head in support and leads his family strong. The stresses of life that reduce many families to torn lives only strengthens this family to inspire others in faith. It’s truly amazing.
So last week, Karina’s mother brings me their three beautiful and wonderful children to photograph. She has this bag filled with dozens of hats for Karina, and we go through them all and it was great fun, I took a lot of shots of all of Karina’s fun hats, and threatened to steal some of them they are so cute. So the session is moving along really well.
I had been re-arranging my studio, and five of my favorite portraits ever that were hanging in another area I decided to move into the area where I shoot. They are printed as 11x14s and framed, but were just leaning alongside the wall as I (still!) haven’t had time to hang them. Mrs. Elise and Mrs. Myra, my dear friends; Mr. Paul Elledge and Mr. Anthony Di Zinno, both phenomenal photographers whom I had the privilege of studying under, and one I call Me Danny P. Karina asked me who Me Danny P was, and I told her he is my OTHER cancer patient, a friend of ours who let me photograph his scar after the doctors cut him to get the cancer out.
Karina looked at me and asked, “He let you photograph him with no hair?”
And after a few minutes she took her hat off. Not for the whole time, but she let me shoot some frames of her with her brothers and many of her alone without her hat. In the two years I’ve been photographing Karina since her diagnosis, it’s never been without a hat. It was a moment I will long remember, earning the trust of a seven-year-old. That evening I sat down to email Me Danny P to thank him for reaching so deeply into the heart of a child and letting her know that beauty has nothing in the least to do with hair.
As always, we continue to pray for Mr. Dan and Karina…
P.S. the boys wore their “game face” in the Yankees photos! Aren’t they great?