As with all important projects, this one began before it started. The work will continue after I have finished.
I am merely one person on the bridge.
Before I started photographing the families who belong to a Central Valley support group, I heard about the death of a young child that led to the Blossom Hill Pedestrian Bridge being built in San Jose. (I would later meet Xander’s mother.) In 2005, my wife and I were listening to the news. My father had died recently. My daughter was young and my wife might have been pregnant with my son. We changed the station hoping to erase the story, but we always remembered.
Another accident led to my involvement with the group. This time I knew the parent. Now I am friends with both parents whose children died. Having been a member of a suicide survivors support group, I knew that I could not simply turn off the newscast and make reality disappear, but I have been surprised that I could find comfort by helping other people. I truly care for these families. They are my friends, my loyal friends. Perhaps this explains why the photo above is my favorite photo from 2012. As I handed my camera to Xander’s older brother, I took a few photos of the media.
My position on the bridge also illustrates how I operate off the bridge. I am somewhere between the media and the support group. It is as if I have become an honorary member of the media. I listen to news reports about traffic accidents wondering if I will meet new families. It happened again with the Nuri family of Concord. Their family lost a father and daughter three weeks before a press conference at the state capitol. Despite their grief, they were incredibly sensitive. Are those in the media as sensitive as the subjects? Is the sensitivity necessary?
Through my coverage of The Mother of An Angel Friendship Network and the related state and national organizations, I have provided alternative methods for reporting. This is not a prescription. At best, I have demonstrated options… pointing to different directions often at the same time.
While I am occasionally complimented for my work, I am humbled by the families who have lost yet still give. I also have two children. They mean more to me than anything else I could accomplish or receive. I am unable to give parents their children. I am unable to end their suffering. I take pictures. I tell stories. I make some friends. It just so happens that this is more than most people do when confronted with the same situation so I receive more credit than necessary.
The earlier posts are still maintained on my TypePad blog www.MoreThanKids.com.
My growing Mother of an Angel photo gallery collection at bryanfarley.com
My Mother of an Angels posts at my new blog posts at www.bryanfarleyphotography.com
If for any reason I have suggested that there is a correct way for grieving the loss of a child, I apologize. While I believe that support groups are useful, I have my own personal experience with sudden loss. It can be isolating and lonely. It is my own personal experience that leads me to support those who are healing as a community. I honor their pursuit.