I first met Natalie and Tim late last year for an engagement shoot in Coolum. It was the perfect day for shooting and they were the perfect couple to shoot – young and in love. The session was going well, they were pretty adorable and didn’t put up a fight. An hour into it, Natalie disclosed her truly shocking story of having fought an aggressive form of adrenal cancer for the past two years. I was speechless. My ignorance was exposed of how little I knew of this mystifying disease. All I kept thinking was ‘how can a 22 year old woman in the prime of her life develop such a serious form of cancer’?
That question remained unanswered, but what was blatantly obvious was how comfortable and undisturbed Natalie was, talking about her battle with the life threatening disease. At the time it was in remission. But she still had to live with the fact that it could return. Natalie was not going to let this get in the way of her living the life that a young passionate woman should.
Come January and I get to meet them both again. This time it was the day of their wedding. A marquee wedding in the front yard of Natalie’s parents’ house in Toowoomba. Once again, it was completely effortless photographing Natalie and Tim together. I’ve never seen such a gentle and adoring affection between two souls. The way Tim would look at Natalie was very endearing, but at the same time somewhat revealing. I could sense a deeper longing in his eyes. The look that wants to hold on forever. A quiet synergy that spoke of something unspeakable, yet was not given any attention on this day of happiness and celebration.
I am not sure how long it was after their wedding, maybe a few weeks, that I received the news from Natalie’s parents that her health was declining, fast. I put everything aside to make sure that their photos were ready and sent them express. Then there was the album, which had to be ordered from the US. Time was not on their side, yet I was told that Natalie was a fighter and she would hold on until she was able to receive the album. Everything arrived on time and I was happy about that. I can only imagine what those albums, those photos, would now mean to Tim and Natalie’s family. I can only imagine, because I have never experienced losing someone so close. I feel for Tim, as a husband, losing his wife and soul mate. And I feel for Natalie’s parents, as a parent myself, losing a child. This is unthinkable, and I choose to do just that whenever I ponder down that path.
At the conclusion of this post, I wish to convey my deepest respect to a woman who lost her fight to the biggest killer of all. I only knew her for a brief moment of her life. But it was a moment in one’s life that we would all want to be remembered by. The day of our wedding and a casual stroll on the beach with the man of her dreams. I saw her with all her strength and all her beauty. But what I remember her most of all by, was her kindness and wisdom. An erudition that can only come from enduring something that no one else has. An experience that gave her more wisdom in her 22 years than most people ever gain in 80.
Vale Natalie. I feel honoured to have been the one to paint the vision of you and your soul onto film. May that now live on forever.