This is family. Imperfect, flawed, beautiful family.
Many families want to appear like they have it all together, when none really do. We all have our gates we haven't walked through. We all have shame and hurt and our 'stuff'.
Family is choosing to love one another in spite of that stuff. To comfort each other in our pain, to fail at comforting each other the 'right' way, and then to simply keep trying to do our best.
My greatest learning has come from families wiling to share their brokenness with us. Authentic + honest, + at times ugly, brokenness. And I mean ugly in the most beautiful way. Loving one another with our whole hearts requires showing our whole hearts. Every side, angle, hidden crevice within. Being free from shame, being blown open by love, being torn apart with grace. This is the kinda love that makes life worth living.
Think about that family you admire, who seems to have it all together. Here's a little secret, they don't. What they do have, what all families have, are stories. This family's story hold light, babies, mental illness, forgiveness, choices, laughter, and deep deep love.
I'll share a bit of it with you, if you'd like to hear.
Jesse's (dad) words:
"My angel baby Berly.
We had a beautiful daughter, Halle. I remember thinking that she was all I needed. One. How could I love another child as much as I loved her? How could l adequately provide for and protect her AND another? I was pretty much dead set against having another baby. Lisa really felt the motherly pull to have another child, a sibling for Halle.
I was really struggling at the time (although no one knew.) PTSD from childhood trauma, and depression which eventually manifested into addictions and self-destructive patterns and behaviours. Unhealthy coping mechanisms, I know now…trying to forget and escape a very terrible party of my life.
I had ben extremely blessed with a supportive wife, a beautiful and healthy daughter. We had an amazing acreage and home, and lots of nice things. From the outside, I’m sure everything looked perfect. However; I was just barely hanging onto life. All of my energy went into the facade of making things look like I was doing well - when in fact it was the complete opposite.
Fast forward: Lisa became pregnant with our second daughter. I was still spiralling downward (unknown to everyone around me, including Lisa). It was an incredible weight just trying to be a husband and father. Berlyn was born, and although I loved her SO very much I was still very unwell. It all came to a head one particular night when everything changed. I was rocking Berlyn to sleep. As I snuggled my child, I broke down….
It was then that I decided to live.
Not really knowing how that would exactly play out, but it involved coming clean about a lot of hidden things, getting help, doing some brutally hard work, moving, therapy…and so much more….but I basically chose to live for my family, my two babies made life worth living. They deserved to have me, even if I wasn’t sure if I deserved them.”
Such incredible bravery. It's humbling that anyone is willing to share their heart with us, to tell their story in spite of the pain it must carry to the surface. But only in shedding light on those dark corners of our lives can we truly walk in freedom.
The love this family holds is beyond words. The images captured are the best I could do to communicate it for you. But the real love rests within their family. Within everything they have shared together, all the beauty + the broken. Those cracks in their story that let the light shine through.
love. love. love.