As soon as Naomi and her girls got out of their car at the park where we met, I knew there was something special about the dynamic between them. I just couldn't quite put my finger on it. Naomi seemed so calm and graceful, and just struck me immediately as a woman of unusual strength. Saylee, her nine year old daughter, helped her with the diaper bag and grabbed her own things out of the car. She was so mature and independent. And sweet Lennon, with her big blue eyes, just gazed dreamily at her mommy and sister; clearly in awe of them.
As the session went on, I had the opportunity to experience Saylee's bright personality over and over again. She made us laugh. She confidently suggested poses for photos. She listened attentively as her mom pointed out the wildlife around them. She just had this amazing fearlessness about her and seemed so grateful to be there spending the evening with her mom and sister, with me and my camera tagging along.
But I still couldn't figure out what it was about them; what it was that was making my heart feel drawn to them. I caught a glimpse of a tattoo on Naomi's arm, and then I knew.
"You have every right to a beautiful life."
Naomi is raising her daughters to be women of strength. To value themselves and the moments they're given, and to live life and love others, especially each other, fully. It's clear in their interactions with each other, as well as their individual characters that this message is a huge part of their lives.
As we walked along the gravel path that wandered through the trees, Saylee commented on her baby sisters short, sweet hair. She wondered out loud if it would grow to be curly like her own hair, and told her mom that she couldn't wait for it to be longer so she could braid it for Lennon, and even teach her how to braid it herself. I knew right then how much she loved her baby sister. That didn't stop me from tearing up a little during a moment that occurred later that evening, however.
The girls were sitting together on the wooden pathway for a photo. Saylee was smiling and laughing, trying to get her 6 month old sister not to slouch down in her lap. Then for a second it got quiet. Saylee pulled Lennon a little closer in the sweetest embrace and reached down to give her a gentle, sincere kiss on the head.
When I look at the still image of that beautiful moment, I see a young lady at the tender age of nine who fully knows what it means to treasure someone completely. There is no doubt in my mind that Lennon will grow up with a sister who will guide her to seek happiness, to understand her immeasurable worth, and to know that she is unstoppable. Lennon will have a beautiful, strong role model in her sister, just as Saylee has in her mom.
Thank you Naomi, for sharing your precious girls, and a short, beautiful glimpse of your story with me.
“But there's a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face.
Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking.
But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begin.”