Today is the third horrible anniversary for Mindy Betancourt Mercado. On my old Type Pad blog, I wrote a post with photos about the loss of Mindy’s four year old son. The photos and story are available at this link.
As my family prepares for Halloween and dia de los muertos, I have been thinking about Mindy more often.I imagine this time of year is especially difficult for her family. While costumes help some people forget reality, Mindy is reminded of her worst horror by all of the costumes.
As I update this version to Mindy’s history, I am listening to news updates about Frankenstorm Sandy. The hurricane has disrupted millions of lives and many people will experience permanent loss. Yet Americans are working together towards recovery. Is there anything we can learn from this tragedy to help others who suffer in isolation?
bf… Read the rest
Last August, during Fresno’s record breaking heat, I photographed mothers from a Central Valley support group.
When I photographed Tammie Mitchell Tarver at Woodward Park, the temperature was still over 100 degrees. We could have rescheduled for cooler temperatures and better light, but grief does not wait for perfect light.
Tammie Mitchell Tarver honors her daughter Starla with a tree at Woodward Park. From the tree, Tammie can see Valley Children’s Hospital where Starla spent many of her final days.… Read the rest
I met Tammie Mitchell Tarver in August 2009 the first year I began photographing members of the Mother of a an Angel Friendship Network. Two mothers walked with us to the tree that Tammie planted to honor her daughter. These photos are from the summer afternoon when we met.
Tammie’s daughter ten year old daughter Starla died in 2007. Tammie and Starla spent much of the last few months of Starla’s life at the children’s hospital beyond beyond the bluffs.
Today is the five year anniversary of Starla’s death. I am reminded to be a better parent and person from Tammie. She continues to love and honor her daughter.
I hope this year I will photograph Tammie and her tree again. There has been so much more growth since the first time.… Read the rest
I wanted to honor my friend Kim Libecki on her birthday today. I often describe her as a “Mother of an Angel,” but she is also a wonderful mother to three other children. She and I have been friends since high school. When I left for college, she started a family and our lives went in different directions. A few years ago, tragedies brought us closer.
After her son died, I offered to photograph her support group. I had some experience about grieving in isolation, so I thought I might help with the mothers’ grieving process. I did not realize that I would gain more from the experience. I learned about photography, parenting, story telling and human relationships.
When I saw the first photos of Kim with her son’s skateboard at the skatepark , I questioned whether my photos were any good. I still doubt the the technical quality of those early photos. Perhaps the photos are made better by the harsh sun and my inadequacies.… Read the rest
2011 was a productive year. I told meaningful stories and affected lives. One of my projects was the Mother of Angel Friendship Network. In February, a magazine published my article and photo essay about the support group organized by mothers who have lost children to death. It is a subject that is often ignored, and the article has helped more people find support and comfort.
I continued my personal project with the mothers’ group during the year. In August, I used Blurb’s new ProLine paper to self publish an excellent book. Combining my experience, the subject matter, and the new Blurb product, this is probably my best book. To see my collection of Mother of Angel photos, visit my gallery collection.
I am grateful to these families for allowing me into their life. I wish I could offer more than my words, pictures, and friendship.… Read the rest
New Year’s Eve is usually hopeful and exciting. Even if the year had been difficult, a person can write off all their bad resolutions and plan for future good intentions. How would a person change their New Year’s Eve plans if New Year’s Day was not a hopeful reminder? How do parents spend their New Year’s Eve when they can still remember the night their son died?
Eric Gary Travioli was a seventeen year old senior at Kerman High School in Kerman, California when he died on a country road near his home. He was a passenger when the car struck a tree. His parents arrived at the site before ambulances or law enforcement.
Melani Travioli, Eric’s mother, rarely visits the roadside memorial, preferring the cemetery. However, she is grateful to the landowners who have allowed the roadside memorial to remain six years after her son’s death. The memorial will not replace her son, but it provides comfort knowing that neighbors are compassionate.… Read the rest