Earlier this year I hosted a giveaway, alongside my dear friend and talented hair and makeup artist, Monica Gracia. We drew names for a winner. Before we even chose the winner we had previously discussed how we hoped someone deserving would win. We set up our camera to record and drew our a name out of around 60 entries.The winner was girl who neither of us knew, her name was Layna. We posted the announcement and Layna was so excited to have won a full glam and portrait session!
During our chats back and forth before Layna’s session, she asked me if it was okay if she wore flats or boots instead of heels.I never really put much though into the question because I often get questions like that from clients who want a little help choosing the perfect outfits for their session. However, Layna must have thought the question was a bit strang. She then told me something that caused me to sit back in my chair for a moment, fight tears and covered my body with goosebumps. The reason, she asked this question of boots vs. heels is something I’ll ever forget. Layna asked this question because of what she had endured a little over a year ago. Just a short time ago Layna’s life was flipped upside down and a health condition caused her to fight for her life. From here I’d rather not mess up her story of incredible strength and the amazing fight for her life. This is what she told me when I asked to hear more of her story….
February 24,2016 my life changed forever. The day I had brain surgery. It started as a major headache and then stroke like symptoms turned into something I never even dreamed of. It was a planned surgery. I had a cavernous angioma on my brain stem that had to be removed before it caused anymore damage as I was numb and losing the use of my right side already. They didn’t know if I would live through the surgery. If I did pull through they were unsure if I would be able to walk or talk. I woke up being paralyzed on my right side. It was devastating for me and my family. I couldn’t even talk to them because I had a trachea ( tube in throat). After 6 days of not moving at all, I finally started to move a little and then on day 17 I was walking with support but I was WALKING!! That was my one request to my doctor that I had to walk! I spent 2.5 months in the hospital. 31 days of that in ICU and the rest in rehab. When I finally came home I did rehab another 8 months. I was at my weakest physically but emotionally I was my strongest! I didn’t see my daughter for 25 days and that was the hardest of all of it. Being a mother and a wife I knew I had fight with everything I had!!
I don’t even truly know how to follow that up except to rave about how incredibly strong, and inspirational this beautiful woman is. I asked her if I could share her story with you all. Not for sympathy or attention, but to inspire. I hope sharing Layna’s fight to live can touch someones life and push them to keep fighting! I hope that peace if found in her overcoming this great obstacle in her life. Today Layna is living and breathing every bit of life that she can. She is so full of life, kindness and love for her family and those around her.
When Layna asked if I would want to come to her ranch home in Lake Placid to photograph her beautiful family, it was more than an honor to do so. I am so grateful and inspired by people like Layna. She is a hero! She is a Super Hero! I just can’t say enough good things about this woman, about this family. My heart is so proud to know her and now consider her a friend.
It made it even more clear to see why she fought so hard once I met her husband and daughter. They are such a kind, hardworking and loving family. Layna’s husband, Darren, is such a wonderful man. I have only been around him for the short hour during their session. However, in just that hour I saw a man, who adores his wife and daughter, I saw a man who is hardworking, loving and devoted. I can 100% envision him by Layna’s bedside supporting her the whole way through.
Just this week, Layna posted a photo that I took of her and her husband with with these words attached, “When I look at this picture, I remember the countless nights at the hospital after brain Surgery. He would stand at the side of my bed, hold my hand, kiss my forehead and say “baby, you can do this, I love you.” I wasn’t able to talk because of all the tubes and couldn’t move my right side at all, it was in those were the moments I knew with him by my side I was gonna talk one day, I was going to walk again!! I never could make it through life without him! He was meant for me, he’s my soul mate.”
When Ana and I had to move my truck during the session to go to a new spot, Darren was the topic of discussion. We were both captivated by what a sweet man he was. Not once did he complain and when he looked at his girls, his eyes lit up. The best way we could describe him, was that he was just a good ol cowboy. This family is a strong one, they are kind and they are the definition of perseverance.
To my couples, this is what marriage is really all about. As much as I LOVE all things weddings, this is the stuff that matters the most.
Never Stop Fighting for your life. YOU are loved. YOU are worth fighting for. And YOU can pull through and help encourage and inspire someone else.
Layna, I’ll forever adore you. I don’t for a second think that your winning the glam/portrait session was by luck or chance. God has a beautiful plan for your life. You have made an impact on my life and for that I’m eternally grateful.