Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography

Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography

Typically this time of year I am out traipsing through the woods taking holiday photos of families and finishing up editing my weddings from the fall months. I'm typically knee-deep in wrapping paper and ribbons and baking cookies for the neighbors. Christmas was always my mother's favorite time of the year and after she passed away, we celebrated her memory throughout the holiday festivities.

Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography

This year has been a lot different for me. I had a very difficult year in 2017. Officially... It kicked my butt. In April my father passed away. Then in May my brother passed. As if both of those losses weren't enough to make one person collapse and fall apart, June would prove to be even more difficult. 

Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography
Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography
Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography

On June 12, I woke up to the terrifying reality that I couldn't feel my legs from the waist down. I had gone to bed with a slight back ache, and a visit to the ER, where I was told I had a pulled muscle. I fought for an entire month to get answers. I visited 4 different hospital emergency rooms, saw 29 different doctors, had 7 MRIs, 2 CT scans & 12 X-rays only to be told It was all in my head. I was patronized time and time again and told I was grieving. I kept telling them, "This is not in my head.". I was averaging about 90 minutes of sleep a night because the pain was so intense and my ability to walk without falling was gradually getting worse and worse every day. 

It was July 11th when I met the Dr. who figured out what was going on and on July 13th I was having surgery on my spine. Needless to say this recovery process has been long, arduous, painful and lonely. Typically, I would call my dad to tell him how scared I was and he would tell me to "Face my Fears". But this year there's no one to call.

Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography
Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography
Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography

Losing both my dad and brother within a 3 week time period was exceptionally difficult. Now with the holidays here, I find myself in mourning over both of them in addition to my mother, who I usually dedicated the season to. This year has been an epic challenge in every way, but I am not going to let it keep me down. My recovery is going well and I am finally getting stronger. I am booking weddings and clients for the spring and I am ready to go. I fully expect next Christmas season to be running around in the wilderness with families like the ones in the photos above. Capturing families and couples and sharing their stories makes my life meaningful. I truly believe that my purpose is to be a storyteller and the camera is my tool. 

Even though I am having the hardest Christmas of my life, I still have my son to be thankful for, so this year I am spoiling him. I negotiated with his father, to have an uninterrupted Christmas with him this year, even though I will only get 4 out of 11 days with him during his Christmas break. I spoke to my son about the trade off and told him that this Christmas, I just wanted to be with him. I told him New Years didn't matter to me as long as I got Christmas. My son understood. He looked at me with his huge brown eyes and said "I wish I could spend more time with you but at least we have Christmas." He gets it.

Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography
Lake Harmony, PA - Family Photography by Jill Nobles of Smile Peace Love Photography

Seeing my 10 year old son with such an understanding of what I needed without me really having to break it down for him and explain my sadness, was surprising but enlightening. He is turning into such a sweet young man. He is becoming so mature and thoughtful. My sweet boy could see the value in spending that night with me.

This is going to be a hard Christmas to get through, my first without any family (other than my son). I really didn't think I would find the Christmas spirit or "Feel the Holidays" this year, but my sweet boy showed me that the warmth of the season can be around any turn. Thanks to him, I think I've started to find and feel the holiday spirit. We were even singing Christmas songs on the way to school this morning. 

Merry Christmas to all and to those who celebrate a different holiday.. Happy Holidays to you. I am greatly looking forward to resuming my photography with every bit of my heart and soul in the new year. 

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