As many of you might know, I lost my niece to a tragic accident the afternoon of September 21st. My family and I were setting up for a surprise birthday party when everything all of a sudden turned into a living nightmare within seconds and there was no going back. I won't go into the details other than it was a freak accident and it could have happened to any one of us family members there setting up; so why it was Addie, we'll never know.
Since then, this last week has been a blur. From the moment I asked for prayers on facebook, to the moment I had to inform everyone that we lost her... I have received an unbelievable amount of love and support from the community and clients. After something like that, you just can't imagine doing anything other than be with family and the ones you love. And thankfully, because family members were coming into town for the surprise party, they still came to be with us during a hellish night of coming to terms with what happened.
From there on, the loving support kept coming. A vigil was organized at Browns Valley Elementary by her principal and the support of other community members to put it all together the following night on Sunday. We couldn't believe the crowd of people coming together to grieve the loss of Addie and to show their love and support for Megan and Jason especially during this horrible time. I held and squeezed my Sophia (her sister) and Nick Joe (her brother) extra tight that night, sobbing with them out of disbelief that she was gone. None of us... her cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and the rest of her friends and fellow teammates or classmates could believe this shocking reality. It was pure shock those first couple of nights... and still is.
Nonetheless, seeing how people came together to show their love for my sister and her little Dominici family was truly amazing. The flowers at her driveway, posters from Addie's classmates and teammates.... was something else. The fact that a 6 year old could touch so many lives was nothing short of amazing. She was a special, special girl... who stood out in ways that she was true to herself, silly, determined, and just had a way of making people smile and want to be around her. I especially loved my time with her since she was just a baby... and loved capturing every moment I could with her. Sure, she may have gotten annoyed at times with me and the fact that I was always pointing a camera at her... but now, I'm so glad I did.
So to all of my clients who have been extra patient with me this last week while I grieve, thank you. My schedule is typically so slammed that I can barely take one day off in a week because there is just always something to do with work whether it be emails to send off to clients for their upcoming shoots, editing, or shooting. And so taking an entire week off, means not only do I have to reschedule all the shoots I had... I am also backed up an entire week with editing. So again, I'm truly sorry to those who have been patiently waiting for their pictures and appreciate you all understanding. It's just an unimaginable situation that we are trying to get through one day at a time.
If there is anything I have learned from all of this, it's how important my job is... I already knew it before after having lost my brother and Dad years ago and treasuring every picture I had left of them. And now... I can't emphasize enough how important it is to preserve your memories. And no, I'm not trying to sell my services... I encourage everyone to take more pictures on their own, everyday. Even if it's just on your cell phones. Sure, the quality will never compare to what I can capture on my professional camera, but it's still better than nothing... and as I flip through my phone and look at all the pictures and videos I got of her, I can't tell you how much each and every one of them means to me. No one EVER wants to think that they should take pictures in case something like this happens to them... but the thing is, you just never know if it will. And I'm so grateful now that I am always thinking to myself in a moment as my nieces and nephews are doing something cute, that I should take a picture or video so that I can remember it later. It's better to have something than nothing.
So yes, I am happy to continue doing what I do after experiencing a loss like I did because obviously it just makes what I do that much more meaningful. But I am also aware that I desperately need to get control of a my workload. I have been working 60 hour weeks for years now, if not more during my busiest of months... and I hate that I missed so many soccer games and school events of my nieces and nephews because I was prioritizing capturing the memories of others or staring at my computer editing them. I get so consumed with work, I am kicking myself now for not having spent more time with Addie these last couple of years while I could. Plus, I'm hoping to start a family of my own one day, and right now... my current workload doesn't allow for that. So I will be making changes now that allow me to not only give the fewer amount of clients I take on more time and attention they deserve, but I will also leave enough room in my week to think of others the way the community had thought of me and my loved ones during this horrible time. Those are the important things in life... and it's time I focus on quality... not quantity. And hope you all will understand as I continue to take on fewer and fewer sessions than I did before.
I'm going to stop taking my time with my loved ones for granted, be there more for my nieces and nephews, and savor every minute with them while I can. They are everything to me... and it's been a heartbreaking week experiencing my first week without Addie. Of course, we will always carry her memories with us in our hearts and she will live on in so many ways at her school with her teachers, her classmates, soccer teammates, BMX teammates, and many more... So again, I just want you all to know how much your love and support has meant to all of us. It helped give us the strength to get through this week and we will be forever grateful to each and every one of you.