It continues to amaze me how life is so intertwined.
I would never have had the fortune of meeting this family if it hadn’t have been for my husband Sean, which is a whole other story of old friends, new friends, a few thousand miles and different continents. Because of Connie’s and Sean’s shared passion for culinary their paths crossed and have stayed connected for well over a decade. Both of them left the country more then once to pursue their passion but both agree Calgary is their home base and Calgary is where we all met. I’ve known Connie for over 10 years and she hasn’t changed, she is humble, she gives selflessly to her tribe and always makes me laugh… and always makes me eat way more then I should! But before there was a passion for food, world travel and her craft there was her family. Nothing is more precious then family nothing drives you to follow your passion, do and give your best everyday then your family.
Connie’s family is dear to me. I’m not even sure what about them draws me to them and makes me feel like I’ve known them forever. Maybe it’s that they have known my husband since he was a teenager, maybe it’s the way her Dad reminds me so much of my own or that her Mom has this way about her that just makes you feel at home. Whatever it is, they are important to me. When I saw on social media that Dolores was unwell and going through treatment I was shocked. But, it seemed ‘minor’ in nature, just a little scare, nothing serious. I followed closely on her progress but never realized the severity of her fight until we had dinner with Connie while back home. As Connie told us the story I sat there in disbelief, how does this happen, why does this happen! I hurt for my friend. She was fighting tears and so was I. I tried to find the positive and steer the conversation away from the dark, but we all knew what Connie was saying. At that dinner we were told the time given by the doctors was short. Shocked. When we left from seeing Connie that night I couldn’t shake it. Connie and I are nearly the same age, we both have daughters nearly the same age and our mothers are nearly the same age. Her story could be mine. How does this happen, why does this happen?
A few months after that dinner I still couldn’t stop thinking about it, I felt compelled to do something, what, I didn’t know. I just kept thinking about Connie’s daughter and how precious time spent with her Grandma was and how sad it was to think that she may not remember her because of her young age. I wanted to fix that. I reached out to Connie. I had this idea percolating for awhile about wanting to empower women who lost their beauty be it from becoming a mom, health concerns or just life. I knew it was a long shot, and odd request at such a sensitive time but knowing what the outcome could mean to Connie and her daughter and what Dolores would see in herself I felt it was worth trying. Surprisingly Connie and her mom agreed. The day of the shoot we met at Connie’s place and her mom looked stunning, hair and makeup done and her head was covered in beautiful henna. The goal for me was to capture memories, the details one clings to when someone we love is gone. The way their smile makes their eyes shine, the way they fold their hands, the little things. I also wanted some memories for Connie and her daughter.
The shoot was a challenge for me and I’m so glad they allowed me in at such a private time. I sat on their images, nervous to even look at them. I didn’t want to disappoint them. Finally I went through the images, selected the ones that spoke to me and went to work refining them. They were done, but I couldn’t release them. Too worried they weren’t good enough, didn’t capture enough emotion, enough memories. Worried they didn’t speak to her beauty. But, when I reflected on the drive behind the project I knew I needed to release them. My hope is these will bring a smile when needed, trigger a memory and be treasured.
I hope they do her justice, and they Empower Her Beautiful.