i met the wrubleskys in the historic district downtown for an early evening shoot. it was the perfect spot for their family, as they love to spend time window shopping at the toy chest, going to the quaint little ice cream parlor and playing on the sprawling arlington lawn. i already knew the wrubleskys were one cool family, but when they showed up in jeans, tees and chuck taylors for their shoot, they elevated their status to super-cool. we started off in the nut cellar, where caleb & luke put a few paw prints on the display glass and picked out some candy. it would come in handy as a little bribery tool for the next couple of hours.
next, we crossed the street to the arlington lawn with four pink balloons for a simple, yet poignant ceremony. amy agreed to let me share the story behind the balloons. in every family photo shoot, the wrubleskys like to remember a special little angel , katie laine. a little over four years ago, amy was hospitalized after 24 weeks of a very difficult pregnancy. what amy & donnie first assumed was a minor issue quickly became a nightmare. they would soon endure a three-day battle for not only the baby's life, but amy's. when amy wrote to me about the scene upon her hospital admittance, she described a swarm of doctors and nurses ready to begin the fight for life. and though it sounds like a chaotic, terrifying moment, amy explained the calm surrounding her like this: "...the Holy Spirit filled the room. I literally felt like the prayers of our friends and family covered the room like a beautiful quilt.... I found comfort in the Lord immediately. He held my hand and kept my body and my soul still....". over the next three days amy's health quickly deteriorated, as the medicine that was saving her baby was killing her. amy and donnie had to make a decision; a decision that was not life or death, but life and death. amy had to be taken off the medication to survive, but that meant katie would be born too early to survive on her own. they had already made the decision not to ventilate, but to leave the situation in God's hands. and they hoped against hope that katie would arrive kicking, screaming and fighting. on march 9, 2006, amy and donnie held one pound, three ounce katie laine. her tiny, underdeveloped lungs didn't allow that cry they were praying to hear, and they knew it would be her first and last day on this earth. as i read amy's story, the thing that struck me the most was that her tone was not one of sorrow or anger, but one of faithfulness and even gratitude! she explains that they are so thankful for her life, and they rejoice that they will be with her again. and as i watched them bow their heads in a quiet prayer on the arlington lawn, then release their pink balloons in remembrance of katie, i knew i had share their story. what a beautiful, healing family tradition...
after the last pink balloon faded into the evening sky, we made our way up to the grand promenade. on our way, we passed some musicians setting up an african drum circle at the foot of hot springs mountain. one of them asked if the boys would like to try one out. all four wrubleskys jumped right in! they laughed as they tried out the vibrant carved wooden instruments. we couldn't have planned the moment any better for our shoot! we eventually made it to the top of the promenade, where caleb & luke clambered up and down mossy steps, climbed rusted rails and skipped around on the decades old brick path. we stopped along the way to get some"still" shots too, and to ooh and aah over a few pets, including a full-blood wolf pup! then it was back down to the arlington lawn for a little bout of wrestlemania, and finally on to a weary stroll under the canopy of trees along bathhouse row.
it was quite an adventurous journey, and i loved every minute! i truly hope i captured the true spirit of this inspiring family.
thank you donnie, amy, caleb & luke! what a joy you all are!