About two weeks ago, I found out that my childhood friend Lisa Jastal lost her 2 1/2 month old son, Aaron, to an infection. He had gone through surgery for a heart defect, bounced back valiantly, but through the IV that delivered some of his nutrients he became ill and passed away.
I was saddened by the news, and also by the fact that it had been so long since I'd seen or talked to the Jastals, and felt too far removed to offer much help... until I got an e-mail.
Lisa and I both studied photography. Pictures are important to her. She asked me to come to the viewing, photograph the flowers and setup, the friends and family that came to celebrate Aaron's life.
This request presented a great opportunity for service, but also scared me a bit. I had never done photographs at a funeral, and wasn't positive how to approach it. Other photographers have done a fantastic job of tactfully shooting viewings, so I swallowed back some apprehension and said yes.
Nervous as I was, the beauty of their little gathering couldn't be denied. The family was all there together, and all of them have the faith to know that they are only separated for a time. I admire their strength. Knowing how forward to be with the camera was a struggle - some people looked a bit suspicious of me and obviously avoided my lens - but I hope I captured the memories the parents wanted.
Below are some images from the viewing, posted with permission. Thank you to Lisa and Brandon Jastal for letting me take these photos.