2022. Where do I begin?! In a lot of ways, I feel like a broken record. It's like deja-vu all over again. This same time last year, I sat down to write my 2021 Year in Review blog post overwhelmed with emotion, reflection, and hope. My 2021 wedding season started off with my dad passing away in June, followed by an insane summer schedule. I was so SO blessed to have the most understanding clients through such a difficult and weird time. While we all knew it was coming (he was 93!), it was still quite a hit to my heart. I spent the rest of the year getting back to "normal", sorting through my dad's belongings, and witnessing beautiful couples get married. I thought, "Gosh, 2020 was crap. 2021 was total crap. 2022 will be better!"
2022 started of with Brian and I both having COVID. Honestly, it was the least dramatic portion of the entire year. Navigating clients and Brian's teaching job for that week was a bit stressful but our symptoms weren't bad and we recovered quickly.
During this time, we had noticed our furbaby cat, Luna, was eating less and seemed to be losing weight. She was pushing 13 years old, so we sort of suspected it was just "old age". She had always been a petite kittie, not a huge fan of food. However, at some point I realized that maybe something was going on. She was due for her annual exam anyways, so in early March we had a home vet visit with bloodwork to check her health. Our vet was a bit concerned about a few things, so we covered all the bases to make sure we knew if anything was wrong.
And boy was it. Here bloodwork came back with a few numbers that weren't right. Our vet further suspected either IBD or insulinoma (cancer / tumor on the pancreas). We began a long journey of steroids to treat it as IBD. In the meantime, we took her in for an abdominal ultrasound, that showed a thickening of her intestinal wall - an early indicator of lymphoma. Since it wasn't a clear diagnosis, we continued to treat her with steroids each day. Two weeks later, she sprinted up our basement stairs and twisted her knee badly. She spent the next month limping as we tried to keep her in a crate to help heal. Her internal symptoms continued to worsen, and on April 22 she was officially diagnosed with aggressive intestinal lymphoma. Another ultrasound revealed a golf ball sized tumor in her intestine.
We spent the next 6 weeks fighting it as hard as we could. She endured 5 chemo treatments. She had mediocre days and bad days. The bad days began to blur together. Brian and I were emotionally and mentally suffering as well. We weren't sleeping, as we listened for her to eat, use her litterbox, vomit. We were awake at 5am to give her her first daily round of meds. I was home all day with her, trying to get food into her, trying to get her to drink water. Willing her to use her box. She began to gag and regurgitate. After another trip to the overnight ER vet, they determined that her tumor had shrunk back down to almost nothing (there's hope!!), but the chemo drugs had left her digestive system absolutely wrecked.
They prescribed yet another batch of medications to get her system moving again. We tried so hard that week with the new meds to get her to poop (sorry, I know). We prayed, we hoped, we listened for any sign of her using her box.
Then she began yeowling in pain. That last week was the hardest week I've ever experienced. After trips to the ER vet, nights of no sleep, and simply no improvement, we made the most excruciating decision of our lives. We needed to let her go. I won't detail her last story, but to sum it up: she was ready to cross the rainbow bridge. She was miserable and we were miserable. She was incredibly patient, waiting for us to find a way to say goodbye. She had one last day of no syringes in her face. One last day of patio time (she was indoors only), tuna flavored Greenies (the only food she'd eat), and napping in a sunpuddle. We held her tight and loved her fiercely as she went to sleep for the last time.
Waking up each morning without her seemed insurmountable. Smiling without her around seemed hypocritical. Daily tasks were lonely and hollow. Slowly, the raw hole in my heart began to heal. I was able to turn my face towards the warm sunlight again.
If you are reading this as one of my clients during that time: truly THANK YOU. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Thank you for allowing me to claw my way through this nightmare.
I apologize for writing a book! Part of me needs to write this out, cry through it one more time. It's somehow healing for me to share just how damn hard this year was. To share just how incredibly bad we miss our Lunabear. To portray just how much she meant to us.
To you, sweet Luna. Babylove. We miss you.
On a personal level, 2022 felt like we were emotionally being burned alive.
<wiping the tears off>
And to add insult to injury, in May, I suffered a stress facture in the ball of my foot, which left me unable to walk without a support boot for 4 weeks. It was finally officially diagnosed in July and after 6 weeks of PT, I was able to walk more regularly without excessive pain.
On a business level, 2022 was amazing. Balanced. A perfect mix of beautiful weddings, great weather, and memorable moments. For once, I didn't overbook myself or stretch myself too thin.
We celebrated with 18 stellar couples.
Traveled more than 5000 miles.
Shot more than 100,000 photos.
Smiled countless times.
I wanted to do something a little different this year from my normal year end review post. In addition to all of the fun behind-the-scenes snaps throughout the year, I've decided to add the image I was taking at that moment.
2022 was a year of emotional pain, physical pain, anxiety, joy, growth, search, and reflection. I've come into this year with a grateful heart. Grateful once again for the blessings I've been given, grateful for my health and ability to keep moving forward. Grateful for my clients and the gift of documenting moments that will last a lifetime.
Of course, I want to give a huge shoutout to my primary 2nd shooter, Christina: girl, you are my sister from a different mister. Thank you for being my partner in crime, a shoulder to cry on, and a rockstar photographer. xoxo
To all my colleagues: I'm so grateful for a community of photographers who are willing to step in when needed, to take the reigns when life throws curveballs.
Today I have renewed hope that this year will be better. Healthier. Full of positive. Full of travel and love and laughs. Here's looking at you, 2023. Cheers.