Ward Family | On Thanks-Grieving

She handed it to me so she could tend to her daughters, because mothers are always assessing, always buffering, forever absorbing the energies and emotions around them at any given point in time. Even in the thick of their own grief. "Will you hold this for me for a minute?"

I was taken aback by the weight of it. Up until that very moment, I'd never held a police badge- much less seen one up close. And up until three weeks before our shoot, Alyssa probably never imagined it would become the central piece in the family session she booked back in the summer- back when her mom- and their grandmother- was still here.

We went ahead with the session because Alyssa knew her mom would want it that way. None of us pretended things were okay. They weren't. They aren't. But something happens when you invite people into your grief, when you- quite literally- ask them to hold it for you: It starts to look a lot more like a deep and endless love. A granddaughter who wears her "Amma's" red coat and laughs while throwing leaves at her sister. A daughter, still fresh in her grief, who carries on her own mother's legacy by giving her children to feel what they feel and simply be. I am so deeply honored that I was given the opportunity to bear witness to this kind of love, even as it's attached to such a significant loss. All of it belongs.

"The courage that my mother


Went with her and is with her

still: rock from New England


Now granite in a granite hill.

The golden brooch my mother


She left behind fo rme to wear;

I have no thing I treasure more:

Yet it is something I could


Oh, if instead she left to me

The thing she took into the


That courage like a rock, which

she Has no more need of,

and I have. Edna St Vincent Millay

In loving memory of Corporal Bonnie Beck (1956-2021)