Mom and Dad

Yesterday I spent the afternoon visiting my parents in the house I grew up in. This house has also been the only home my mom has ever lived in, save for a few months after she was born. This month mom will be 86. 

As I pulled out of the driveway I kept wondering (like I always do when I say goodbye) if I told them everything I am feeling. Did I tell them I love them enough? Have I thanked them for putting up with and raising me...I know I was difficult.  

Maybe it's the point in life I am at and the thoughts that come after watching a loved one pass, I don't know for sure. I do know that I cherish every second I spend with my them.  

6_12_2013 Mom and dad outside 437 as I leave.jpg

Jen, 2 years ago today

Sunday I was photographing a concert when a young woman who recognized the tatto that runs along my collarbone introduced herself. She told me she knew about Jen and me and has been folllowing our story. She then shared a challenge she is facing and that our story inspires her to not give up. 

This is one of the biggest reasons why I keep posting to this page. I always admired how Jen turned difficult experiences into something positive that helped others. That's how I want to live my life. 

Another lesson from Jen. 

 

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No judging, just loving

I remember coming home with my first mohawk...Jen loved it. One of the coolest things about Jen was that she didn't judge - what mattered was who you are. 

The way we saw our relationship was like this - You walk out the door in the morning with your helmet on and life tries to break you down. When you get home there is no reason to need a helmet. We wanted to make life easier and happier for each other.

Mohawk.jpg

Will you marry me

In October of 2006 I moved to New York with an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket. On the night I arrived Jen and I had dinner at this restaurant. After we finished eating I got down on one knee and asked Jen to marry me. Jen yelled "SHUT UP!!!!!!" I remember thinking, "I sold everything I own except for my cats and a few cameras...what does shut up mean??"

After what felt like forever Jen put her finger out and I could breathe again.

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Sweet Isabella

This is Isabella Santos, one of the sweetest souls I've ever known. Isabella was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma at the age of 2 and sadly she passed last June. Jen and I were fortunate to meet Ib and her family and we all became close friends. Like Jen, Isabella had the gift of seeing life as half full. 
The Santos family is committed "to fight Isabella’s fight in her honor and for all children who are fighting Neuroblastoma." In 2009, the Isabella Santos Foundation (ISF) was established through Isabella’s parents to raise awareness and research funds for Neuroblastoma. I admire the courage, strength and love it takes for this family to honor Isabella and make a difference for the rest of us.

Please take a look at the website for The Isabella Santos Foundation and if you are moved to do so, please share. 
Thanks

http://www.isabellasantosfoundation.com/video-gallery/

My little firework...

Today I was looking through my photographs and this one caught my eye. I remember the exact moment, coming back from Akron after Jen's funeral and thinking about how different New York would be without Jen. Looking at the photograph I started to get bummed and thought, "I don't feel like being down today. Despite the snow on the ground, it's still a beautiful day and I'm thankful to be alive."

So, I turned on a song that Jen loved, "Firework," by Katy Perry, hit repeat, turned the volume up and started thinking about my little firework, Jen. She lit up the room...

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One year ago today...

One year ago today we held a memorial service in NYC for friends who couldn't make it to Ohio for Jen's funeral (by "we" I mean our friends put all of this together and I just had to show up). I remember walking into this beautiful spot, located in Chelsea, and thinking, "Jen would love this."

When I look at this photograph today I am reminded of how fortunate I am to have so many people in my life who have been there for me this past year. I also love that so many people are smiling. 

As horrible as losing Jen has been, the moments when I remember Jen's smile and love are the moments that keep me going.

Lesson here...smile.

xo

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Live Sincerely

Last summer I was fortunate to meet Vanessa and Billy Tiemeier at my exhibition in Cleveland. Vanessa has Stage VI advanced breast cancer but that didn't stop her from getting in a car with her family to make the four hour drive from her hometown of Cincinnati to see my photographs. Knowing what day to day life is like for Vanessa and Billy, I was blown away and couldn't hold back my tears when we were introduced. One of my first thoughts was that Jen and Vanessa would have really connected.
Along with her sisters, Vanessa and Christina, Vanessa started "The Live Sincerely Project." The goal of this project "is to support a living community that engages in dialogue and creative, thoughtful projects that explore this life we share."
Please take a look at their website, I promise it will be worth the few minutes it takes. 
I think of Vanessa and Billy often and they have been quite an inspiration for me throughout my new journey as a 39 year old widower. 
Thank you

http://thelivesincerelyproject.com/