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Jacksonville Senior Photographer // Scarlett Lillian Seniors: A special day with my dad.

Aug 31, 2008

A special day with my dad.

I wrote the title above.


I didn't even type anything yet in the body of this blog, and the tears formed up in my eyes. Yes, I'm PMSing, but that aside, my eyes have been filling with tears at random times so much more lately. Not sad tears. Just tears appreciating the simplest beauty of life.

Today was a special day with my dad. But nothing really special happened. It was just the little moments that made it special.

I stopped by my parents' house to welcome a new friend in our lives. Through my blog, and my mom's blog about my dad and everything he is going through battling cancer right now, an angel of a friend named Shannon appeared in our lives. Over time she has sent one beautiful letter and gift after another to my dad and our family. Having recently lost her own grandmother, she was so sweet to turn her pain of loss into reaching out to perfect strangers and giving of herself so beautifully through random acts of kindness. Shannon was in town for a friend's wedding, so my mom hosted a tea party, and we all met for the first time, even though it felt like getting together with a long lost friend.

Here's a few pics of our visit:

Shannon and I

Shannon and my dad and mom.

After Shannon left, I hung around and crashed on the couch, just chatting with my parents about life, and I read them a sweet email I had just got from my bride Alexis on my iPhone about just seeing her wedding photos I posted yesterday in the entry before this one:

Dear Scarlett,

As we knew they would be, the photos are so beautiful. I cannot thank you enough for all your hard work and passion for documenting such a special day for us.

I was flying up to Gainesville to see my family when you put the shots up. As you know, it is the anniversary of my father passing away and there were tears in the car not long after my sister picked me up from the airport. Sometimes the best cure for grief is grieving but when I got home and my mother, sister and I all gathered around the computer to look at the shots you really transported us away from that sadness. We were laughing and pointing and ohhing and ahhing. All the tears were happy ones.

So thanks for giving us that moment together and congratulations on being able to touch people with your work.



After I finished reading the email, my dad didn't say anything. He just got up from his recliner and came and sat on the couch with me. Then he leaned forward and grabbed the small bottle of "holy water" on the coffee table that their friends Donna and Richard had brought back for them from a recent trip to Jeruselum.

"Will you pray for me and then apply the holy water to the spot where my cancer is?" my dad asked. "Hearing that email, I see you're in good with the Lord right now, and I want some of that."

I was honored to even be able to pray for my dad. All this time, I have been praying "for" my dad during my own quiet time each morning, but I've never prayed FOR my dad in his presence. I kind of have been leaving that to my mom because she's an amazing pray-er. They have these cute little "holy healing sessions" as they call it, where she prays over him and then applies the holy water to his cancer spot.

As my dad went on to describe, "Now, your momma really gets into it, she's shouting at the devil to get out of my body and everything, and just all filled with the spirit praying like a preacher applying the water three times in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit." I just laughed and was like "Well, I don't think I can be as entertaining as mom, but I'll do the best I can."

So I grabbed my dad's hand, giving thanks that he was still here another day to hold his hand, soaking in the touch of how his hand felt in mine, and I just opened my heart in prayer the best way I knew how. I don't even remember what I said, but mom claimed it was the best prayer she ever heard. Ha! She has to say that, she's my mom. :-) One thing I've never felt I was good at was praying outloud. I've always kept a prayer journal as the way I talk with God, writing from my heart letter after letter to Him as if I'm writing to a friend, as He speaks to me in return through His word. So praying outloud is something I never feel comfortable doing, but at this point, I would do anything for my dad.

I applied the water to my dad's chest over his lungs, and as I brought my fingers away, his grey chest hairs stuck to my finger as they shed due to the chemo causing hair loss. As I shook off the hair on my fingers, I couldn't help but think of the story he's always told me of how when I was a baby, he used to lay me on his chest and how he never knew pain until my strong little baby hands would grip his hairy chest and hold on for dear life! We have a picture somewhere of me laying on my dad one of those times, but I think it's buried away in my parent's albums somewhere. Gosh, here I am teary eyed again just thinking of all of that, and how, now in a different way, I'm holding on for dear life again, for my dad's life this time, begging each day for a miracle that he'll beat this @!&#$*% cancer.

In my upcoming interview on F-Stop and Beyond, Ron asked me "What have you learned the most from your dad's situation?" And all I could think was "Don't wait to love. We're not promised tomorrow, so don't wait to love those who are most special to you. It's not until you think you are going to lose a loved one that you realize how important all the little everyday things are with that person." (Or my answer was something like that.) But today was one of those days that I soaked up every moment just sitting on the couch with my dad chatting about life, doing nothing, just hanging out being together with my two favorite people in the world, my heros, my best friends, my mom and dad.

Also today, I got an email from a bride of last year whose sister passed away yesterday. She was asking for a picture of her sister walking down the aisle to showcase at her funeral. My heart broke for her and her family, but reading her email just really made me stop and think, wow, this is why I feel blessed to have the job that I do, to be used to provide others with a memory of not only their wedding day, but of their loved ones as well. While a lot of photographers get caught up in all the accolades and awards in the industry, I honestly could care less and don't persue them because what is most important to me are the relationships and friendships I make serving others through my camera. That's the true success to me. While, yes, I am thankful for any success God has given me in my career, the reason why I am photographer is because I love documenting lives, love and family history. I feel so privileged to give my brides and grooms this amazing gift that they can one day look back on 50 years from now and remember why they fell in love... and the family that surrounded them to celebrate that love.

So it was just the kind of day where I'm reminded how fragile life is.

And suddenly, all the other things I worry about seem to not matter.

Because all that matters is the present.

Living life to the fullest each day we are given.

And loving others to the fullest each opportunity we are given with them.



Blogger Rene Williams said...

I love how the word"faith" snuck itself into the pic of you and Shannon. We didn't plan it that way. it just "appeared." And isn't that just how faith really is? Always there quietly hanging around to share the journey with us.

OK...pass the kleenex box. When I read your simple heartfelt words of faith, my heart swells. When you prayed outloud for Daddy yesterday I confess I opened my eyes and peeked at you both on the couch as your beautiful words filled the air.

It was one of those moments no camera could do justice to. But the "picture" of that memory is forever etched in my heart.

Your sweet faith was music to my ears as you sat there trembling with your eyes closed bringing God into our circle of love. Faith like yours is contagious. I find over the years that so many times you have become the teacher and I have become the student.

I watch you walk through life with a trust and a love for the Lord that touches so many lives. Your courage in LIVING your faith without apologies is a lesson we all can learn from. You DARE to believe.

You DARE to receive the blessings we are promised if we simply have faith and follow His instructions for a life filled with love, prosperity, happiness and that peace that surpasses all understanding - no matter what.

You show us what "fabulous faith" is all about.

Love and blessings..........Mamma

August 31, 2008 at 7:32 AM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

I read a paragraph, paused to regain my composure, read a paragraph, paused again.. you get the picture. It's not often that I am moved to tears, especially when I'm reading, but you blessed me with that gift this morning. I'm off to shoot a wedding for one of my favorite brides who lost her dad last year, and you've completely realigned my focus for today. Thank you, dear friend :D And as always, I'm lifting your family in prayer.

August 31, 2008 at 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is so true and so beautiful! It made me cry. I will include your family in my prayers!!


August 31, 2008 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger Leslie Roark Photography said...

Wow.. after losing my family recently and having a high school friend fight for his life as we speak (well type) this was so extremely touching! A big question that I have prayed about recently is how to find te balance between life and death. Right now in my life so many friends have passed and my grandmother who I was extrememly close to. It's hard. Sorry.. I'm rambling. Anyway.. thank you for this.. it brought tears to my eyes!

August 31, 2008 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous jen harris said...

aaahhh....deep breath...you put it perfectly. that is what being a photographer is all about. I love you and hugs to your mom and dad!

August 31, 2008 at 12:20 PM  
Blogger Leslie Roark Photography said...

Ok.. after I regained my composure as well I realized that my comment had a mistake..tears.. gah! I did not lose my family I lost a family member.. my grandmother whom I was very close to! Sorry for the mistake!

August 31, 2008 at 3:20 PM  
Anonymous Robin DePaula said...

I am sitting here in tears as I finish reading your post . . . I have been praying for you & your family since I read it on your FB profile earlier this year. Keep your faith, and keep on praying. I will continue to do the same!!!

Be blessed! ~ Robin

August 31, 2008 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Kenzie Shores Photography said...


August 31, 2008 at 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Gin said...


I honestly believe I was led to your blog and to photography for so many reasons. After reading this post and wiping my eyes a few times, I have a new mindset about photography and so much more. In a week of chaos and feeling helpless, I realize that no matter how tough times are or how sad or upset I may be about something, someone else is having a much harder time. I lost my dad and all my grandparents years ago and more recently my aunt. Life is so precious. You are a very strong young lady full of faith and Love and I think it is obvious that your parents are two amazing people that brought an amazing you into this world. You have touched so many lives and continue to do so with every smile on your face, every click of your camera and every line of your blog. I see the courage in your fathers eyes and the hope in your mothers and it lifts my spirits and renews my beliefs. I am so thankful for you Scarlett. Thank you for opening my eyes, giving me hope and renewing my faith. I will pray for you and your wonderful family each and every day.

August 31, 2008 at 10:11 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

oh my... that brought tears to my eyes too! Your blog is always so inspiring Scarlett! I think that we all need to be reminded every now and then about the precious gift of life and love that God has given to us - both of which are so easily taken for granted. Thank you for your living your faith so publicly and not being afraid to share any of it!

In Christ,

August 31, 2008 at 11:58 PM  

chills when i read this..

you are one strong woman..

God is so remarkable!

September 1, 2008 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Jaren said...

Still much love and prayers,

September 1, 2008 at 1:19 AM  
Blogger kennykimdotcom said...

Great, great post Scarlett. Thanks for sharing that insightful moment. :) Praying for your dad...

September 1, 2008 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Kricia Morris Photography said...

Your heartfelt words certainly did their job today in reaching out and touching my life. Being the sentimental, sappy person that I am (lol) I of course teared up almost at the first sentence. Being a military wife I truly appreciate people who understand how important every day is with their loved ones. Young, old, sick or well you never know when it can suddenly all be taken away. Thank you for sharing your emotions and your faith in such a touching and private way. You truly are an inspiration.

September 1, 2008 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Suzi Scott said...

Amazing post Scarlett! I was also in tears. You are such an amazing role model and I learn so much about life and photography from reading your blog!

September 1, 2008 at 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


September 1, 2008 at 12:23 PM  
Blogger Nichole said...

Your honesty is inspiring, and gives a reason behind making photography mean something to someone else! God Bless your family they are in our prayers. :)

September 1, 2008 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Shannon Williams said...

Scarlett... WOW... As always your words have touched my heart. I was shocked to see my face on your page today ;) I had such a nice time meeting your family. Your Dad is a sweet sweet man, I can see why you love him so much. Your Mom is so warm and kind. I really enjoyed meeting the three of you and felt instantly at home in your presence. I too felt like we had known each other for years. Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives. Okay now I need a tissue too. Sniff sniff.

September 2, 2008 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Stefanie said...

Scarlett, you are truley amazing! I love to check out your blog and see what you are up too. My heart just hurts when I read about your father. You have such a strong spirit and I pray that the healing will continue. Stay stong and God Bless you and your family!

September 2, 2008 at 11:50 AM  
Blogger Scarlett Lillian said...

Mom- You're amazing and the true writer of the family!

Lauren- Aww, I miss you!

Leslie- I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your grandmother recently, but I'm glad I could somewhat help you understand the balance of life and death.

Jen- Can't wait to see you this weekend and give you a hug!

Gin- Your words really touched my heart! Thanks girl!

Suzi- Wow, I feel humbled to be called a role model. Thank you for the gracious compliment.

Shannon- Our pleasure!!

To everyone else, sorry to cause all the tears! :-) But thank you for embracing my words from the heart!

September 2, 2008 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger Mirelis Sanchez said...

Wow! What an empowering post. You are amazing at what you do and both with photos and your words. I pray for you and your family now and always.

December 11, 2008 at 12:04 AM  

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