A few weeks ago I was on my facebook page and I noticed a page suggestion with a photograph that looked very familiar to me, it was a photograph of a girl named Alicia who was a bridesmaid at a wedding I photographed in Reno in 2005. I clicked on the page out of curiosity, and learned that she was dying of a rare form of cancer, alveolar soft part sarcoma, and that she had weeks to live. Alicia died yesterday.
When she was diagnosed in 2005, she had just started a job at the San Francisco Chronicle as a copy editor when she got the bad news from her doctor. She was 23. I had no idea about her situation when I photographed her friend’s wedding in August of 05, she looked and acted just like any normal young bridesmaid that I have photographed a hundred times … happy, beautiful, and sharing the fun experiences of her friend’s wedding.
She wrote about her experiences with cancer in a series in the San Francisco Chronicle called Alicia’s Story. I have been reading it over the past few weeks and she was a talented writer. I highly, highly recommend taking some time to read it. I don’t know why her story has consumed me in the way that it has, maybe because she was a journalism student like myself, I don’t know. I cried today reading her obituary, reading about how she and her boyfriend had a private commitment ceremony recently at the hospital, he gave her the wedding ring worn by his grandmother and mother.
And I don’t really know why I am sharing this story on our blog, it is certainly a departure from the happy, happy, joy, joy weddings we post. But I guess I wanted to share some of the images I captured of Alicia at that wedding I did 5 years ago. The bride recently told me that there was this one image of Alicia that I captured in particular, the one that originally caught my eye on her facebook page, that she just loved and said it was probably her favorite photograph taken at her wedding. It is the last photograph shown below. The same photograph was also used in today’s San Francisco Chronicle for her obituary. It is a humbling reminder to me that my chosen job as a photographer helps people build their family histories. I am thankful that many of my images help people cherish their memories of each other. I truly feel blessed to be entrusted with documenting people’s lives, and I am happy that Alicia and her family and friends have the images I captured of her.
Edited by Monique on April 23, 2016, six years after this was published: I was so very sorry to hear that Shannon, the bride pictured below, also died last fall after a 5 year battle with melanoma cancer. How unfair this life can be! Shannon was one of the sweetest brides I have ever had the honor to work with. She also wrote about her journey on her blog, and you can read it here: Sunshine and Shadows.