Tis the season of giving! And what a great way to share a selfless act with all of you. I received an email from Stephanie a few weeks ago and from the second it hit my inbox I knew this was a story I had to tell. Stephanie is the most put together 20-something I know. From the way she presents herself, to her eloquent words, to her downright contagious smile and personality – she is the real deal. Her story was something she wanted captured, she wanted remembered, and she wanted documented. Her story is one of strength, emotion, and love. I could try to put her words into my own, but I’ll let her tell the rest.
I grew up with just one house separating my house from my Aunt Sandy’s house. She never had any biological children and due to our immediately close relationship, I was never just a niece to her. She was always part Mom, part Aunt and part friend to me. Most kids can’t wait for the weekend because it means no school or no homework…I couldn’t wait for the weekends because I got to sleep over at my Aunt’s house just about every Friday night! We would take trips to the library, play trivia and she would let me cook crazy things. My Aunt also taught me how to ski, took me on my first airplane trip and never missed a softball game or choir concert. She fueled my curiosity of the world and love of learning. Most importantly, I always knew I could talk to my Aunt about anything.
About a year and a half ago, my personal and professional life caused me to relocate, about 2 hours from home. While it has allowed me to grow immensely, it has been difficult to be away from my family and spend less time with them. I didn’t realize just how difficult it really was until May, when my Aunt was diagnosed with cancer. Almost every weekend after that, I made the trip home to spend time with her. We didn’t do anything extraordinary- we grilled out, did crosswords together and just talked, a lot. I couldn’t wait for Fridays and I dreaded Sundays.
I had planned to spend the first weekend of August in Oshkosh; however, after talking to my Aunt on the phone after her Tuesday morning chemotherapy, something just didn’t feel right. I knew I needed to be home with my Aunt. That Sunday she was incredibly weak and I ended up taking her to the emergency room. Just 2 short days later, my world came crashing down as I watched the strongest person I knew lose her battle with cancer. It was my honor and privilege to be by her side and hold her hand for those two days. I will never forget the final conversations we had, when it was just her and I.
I really believed the worst day of my life was the day I found out that my Aunt had cancer, but every day without her has been so much worse. She was a strong, independent woman that loved life and was so much fun to be around. A lot of who I am today is thanks to her. She was the one person in my life who really understood me, believed in me (even when I didn’t) and never pressured me to be anything other than my very best self; because that was always enough. People say that time heals everything, and I’m not sure that I believe that. Life doesn’t get easier, it just gets different. Every day I remember my Aunt and strive to make her proud. I hope that by donating my hair in her memory, I am able to help some other woman with her battle with cancer. And I hope that woman receives some of the strength that was passed from my Aunt…to me…to her.
Thank you Epic Salon in Neenah for allowing us to document such a special story! And of course Aprille for your wonderful style and skills.
A week after Stephanie’s new ‘do we met up again to do a session with her boyfriend Andy and get some awesome “after” pictures to show off that adorable cut for their Christmas card pictures. This time another local Neenah business helped us out, Schroeder’s Forevergreens. If you are looking for the perfect tree consider heading over to visit them! Their lot is complete with not only trees but wreaths, swags, and other Christmas cheer in their gift shop. Not to mention their customer service is above and beyond and I hear that Santa’s reindeer even make a special appearance every year!
Please do not crop, edit, or screen shot images for use. Copyright of E Photography & Design 2014.
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Journalistic and intentional photography for the modern couple who wants to remember how they felt in the moment 20 years from now.