This year looks different for the Stanley Family. Just two short months ago, they lost their beloved husband and father, Thomas. While this would be tragic at the very least for any family to endure, it is particularly so in this case as they are my family too. My sister and Thomas met when I was thirteen and started dating shortly thereafter. I have been incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to photograph them and their growing family over the years. The loss of Thomas has been incredibly difficult to bear. And while most people would believe the holidays to be the most difficult time – my sister experiences incomprehensible pain daily. I believe that losing anyone is painfully hard, especially around the holidays – but losing someone as exceptional a person that Thomas was is wildly unbearable, even in the mundane. Our hearts our broken and our pain is all to real to push aside. There is no moving on, but learning to live in a different way as we all feel the effects of the gaping hole his absences has left in our lives.
I photographed my sister and their kiddos a few times over the last couple days. She and Thomas (whether they knew it or not) have always been guide posts for me for digging deeper in faith and a relationship with God – as well as what healthy dating and marriage relationships look like. She is unbelievably strong and grounded in her faith and she continues to be a pillar for their family. I am in awe.
I look at these images and no one looks their age. My sister all too young to have been widowed – Charlotte (6) Peter (4) Claire (2) – have aged in a way I desperately wish could be undone.