I’m still here

Hey friends, fans, followers, colleagues. I know y’all thought I fell of the face of the planet, but I promise I’m still here. In early August I flew to NYC to teach the inaugural Passport workshop with my colleague J. Nichole Smith. When the workshop ended on August 9th, I had planned to spend 5 days in NYC exploring the city and relaxing. But sadly as many of you already know, that wasn’t exactly how it happened.

Without going into the details of the 3 days I was in NY following the workshop, I found out on August 12th that my mom had died on the 10th, at the age of 66, after taking her own life. It was, as you can imagine, the most devastating thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I expect, will ever go through. I was in a city where I knew no-one and was heartbroken, alone, in despair and completely, totally broken.

To make a long story short, thanks to my dad taking control, I got an early flight home on Friday the 13th, and have spent the last 4 weeks trying to put the emotional pieces of my life back together. I’m just slowly returning to work this week, and expect to be moving back into work slowly over time. I still have my email autoreplies set up, and will take them down when I feel like I’m ready to be fully back into work, which I expect won’t be until the beginning of October. I’m incredibly lucky that I have a business that allows me flexibility in my schedule and when I work. I read online that the average time off for bereavement is 3 days, which I find appalling beyond any explanation or understanding. It takes A LOT longer than that to heal a shattered heart.

So how am I doing? Well, it depends on when you ask me. Some days are ‘good’- or relatively good anyway, and some days are very bad. Some days I need to be scraped up of the floor by someone I love, which has happened more times now than I can count. I miss my mom very very much. She and I were extremely close. We were two people who always knew how the other was feeling without even needing to call each other. Let me put it this way, I knew she had died the day before I received the phone call telling me she had.

I had planned to write a ‘dear mom’ post and include some photos of her, but I can’t, because ultimately it’s just too painful, too personal, and too hard. I hope to still be able to post some photos of her from her modeling days, which are so cool in that they are film photos taken in black and white, which you don’t see very often in high fashion these days. She was such a beautiful person inside and out. She was the most compassionate, accepting, non-judgmental, understanding, kind, loving person I’ve ever known. She was my rock. I love her with everything in me, and I will miss her forever until one day, hopefully, I see her again.

Now, it hasn’t all been sadness and loss. I’ve done shoots lately. I knew I needed to get out there and do what I love the most, and thanks to my incredibly patient and supportive clients who were willing to wait for me to be ready, I was finally able to get out there and do several shoots for some sweet dogs and their lovely owners. There was the adorable pomeranian pair that turned heads and elicited ‘awwws’ from strangers during our entire shoot, the affectionate and playful pitbull pair, one of whom has terminal cancer, and the Fergie look-alike who had me biting my tongue in order to call him by the right name during our shoot. I have images that I love from these shoots, and have been working on some really great products for my clients. I am so blessed to work for the people that I do. And I am loving my job now more than ever.

Losing my mom has taught me a lot about life. I have learned that, in a nutshell, life isn’t about working and success and fame and accomplishments and ‘stuff’; it’s about people, and relationships, and experiences, and adventure, and human connections, and ultimately, it’s about love. Really, those things are all that matter.

Now everything I do with my business and my personal life, will be toward those goals. All of the extra fat will be trimmed. I have new priorities, new goals, new values, and a new appreciation for life.

I want to sincerely thank all of you from the bottom of my heart who have been so supportive and loving and kind through all of this. I can’t put into words what it has meant to me. And the love and support my family and friends have given me? Well, that’s where I get choked up. My friends and family have kept me alive the past 4 weeks- bringing me food, talking to me on the phone, coming over to my house, scheduling car repair appointments, picking up my dog’s poop, watering my plants, etc, etc. I just, I don’t even know what to say, other than thank you. It means everything. It means that I know I’m going to be ok. And yes, Fergie is still here, sleeping right next to me. She has been very sweet and supportive through all of this. I’ve learned there is no better medicine for tears than dog kisses.

I have a lot of phone calls and emails I need to reply to from people who have reached out to me with their support, and I will get there. It will just take me awhile. But I will reply to each of you. Thank you so much for your patience.

I have so much to share here on the blog, and look forward to the posts I have yet to draft. It will take me a couple of months to post all of the things I want to post, and some will be really late compared to the time they took place, but I’ll get there. Look for the same fun, colorful, joyful images you have come to know from me, and some other fun stuff thrown in the mix.

If you are an impatient person like me, go check out my facebook page, where I’ve found posting simple short snippets with a photo or two to be manageable lately, so you’ll see some new work there. Oh, and I also bought a new lens, the Canon 24mm 1.4 L USM II, and a new Crumpler camera bag, both things I’m in love with. You can read more about those on my facebook page too.

As far as twitter goes, that’s one area of ‘fat’ that I’m in the process of trimming. In many ways I need to take my life back, and one simple step is ending my addiction to twitter (and other forms of electronics). I need to spend more time with family and friends, and just enjoying, and just ‘being’. I’ve been on that path for the past year, and now with my mom watching over me, I know that’s the right path to be on.

So thank you everyone, and don’t worry, I’m still here. A little wounded, a little weary, a little fragile, but I’m still here. Thanks for being here with me. πŸ™‚

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35 thoughts on “I’m still here

  1. Jamie,
    I am so incredibly sorry to hear of this news.
    How devastating a loss.
    My thoughts and best wishes are with you during this terrible time.

  2. I have followed your blog for some time now. I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I hope that time will bring peace and healing to you and your entire family.

  3. Jamie, I’ve “lurked” your blog for quite some time now but never commented until now. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. I lost my Dad 2 years ago – he took his own life as well. People say time heals – and that’s true – but only because it takes time to do the work that’s necessasary when these things happen. Your mom sounds like an incredible woman; celebrate her how you remember her and know that there are so many people out there who can relate and I am sending you all the healing vibes I can possibly muster.

  4. I am so very sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to lose a parent. I lost my mom unexpectadely, 3 years ago. I was shooting a wedding while my mother was dying. Her death turned my whole world upside down and it really puts life into perspective. I still miss her everyday. It sounds like you have a great support system, hang in there….

  5. Jamie, I’m so sorry for your loss. I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. I’m so happy that you have sweet Fergie and lots of family and friends that are surrounding you with their love.

  6. hi jamie…..i am a big fan of your work. πŸ™‚ after reading this post, i wish i could give you a big hug. i’m so sorry for your loss. i can only imagine the pain….but hang in there. time heals. love your family. love your friends. love your animals. they will pick up you up and show you that life is an amazing gift, even through the pitfalls. keep on keepin!!

  7. I got all teary eyed reading this. I’m really sorry for your loss. I can relate somewhat. Only time will help you heal. Sending good vibes to you and your family.

  8. Jamie, You have been an inspiration to me. Now after reading about your Mom I see where you get it. She must have been a remarkable woman to have made such a remarkable daughter. I truly believe that her spirit will always be with you. Thanks for sharing your loss, your pain and the lessons you have learned. Life is too short….. treasure the moments, listen to your heart…. and drink red πŸ™‚

  9. Jamie, you express your thoughts and feelings in writing as beautifully as you do through photography. Thank you for sharing this journey (I think we all need reminding from time to time what is truly important in life), and let all of this healing energy help carry you and your burdens. It’s great to have you back in action even if it is in small doses! Take care!

  10. Jamie-
    I am so sorry…I had a feeling something was not right in your life and I was getting concerned. Take care…always

  11. Hello again… I just read more…. I’m so sorry about your mother! I lost mine also quite young (63) and I’m missing her and missing to share all things with her. I send you courage and strenght. Teje

  12. You will be bombarded with memories, happy and sad, and find that many things trigger those memories and feelings — Holidays, music, people you haven’t seen since your mother’s death, aromas, visits to places you went together, and many other things. I still have conversations with my late brother, but now I win more of the arguments… So glad you have needed support, and Fergie.

  13. So sorry to hear about this Jamie. I don’t follow Twitter/FB so I hadn’t heard, just thought you must be super-busy. XX

  14. Wishing you strength, healing and peace all the way from Australia. Take care of yourself and Fergie, Shelly & Daisy Mai xx

  15. Sending you and your family healing vibes Jamie. I know times like these, folk can never feel how you are feeling, but just hang in there πŸ™‚ I hoping Fergs is sticking close to you, she will help you through this time im sure πŸ™‚

  16. i’m glad you’re being strong and having supportive friends and family is really important. focusing on other tasks is the best thing to do. whether it’s editing some pics, taking pics, snuggling with Fergie or tending to your garden, sometimes the mundane and simple things helps to ease the pain. i know from experience since i lost my sister 9 years ago who also took her own life. time makes it better. i’m glad you’ve realized that work is not life, well maybe in our case, taking pics of dogs is one of the greatest jobs ever! but getting away from silly distractions like twitter and FB and electronic toys will only make life better. connecting on an in-person level is so much more rewarding. take care.

  17. I’ve got a guest room and two dogs who *love* to lick strangers here in San Francisco, if you ever need to get away. Fergie is 100% welcomed to join you.

    Hang in, heal.

  18. Jamie~sending thoughts and prayers to you and your family…your journey ahead in healing will be challenging but with your tenacity and courage you will succeed… *hugs*

  19. Jamie, I am so, so sorry for your loss. It seems a little shallow to say but it’s the best thing I can say. You don’t know me (either) but your blog and photography always makes me smile. I appreciate your honesty and openness. I am sending you lots of love and healing vibes.

  20. Jamie, i noticed we hadn’t heard from you in a while but I had no idea why. I really understand how you are feeling as I lost my dad just a few years ago also. I just couldn’t understand how everyone else’s world just kept going along as normal when the world had literally tipped on its axis for me. It takes time, good friends, long days and nights and then you will come back to normal. Until then I’ll be thinking of you.

  21. You don’t know me, but I’m a big fan of yours. I just wanted to send my deepest sympathies. I can’t imagine the suffering your family is going through right now. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

  22. Lost my brother the same way over 9years ago. After that I never let a day go that I don’t tell people I love them. For me the hardest part was why? Years of therapy there is no answer, just more questions. Know you are not alone and that your pain will ease. You will never forget but the pain will lessen with each passing day you survive. Thanks for sharing your pain and your recovery with us.

  23. Take Care of your heart, you are in my thoughts. You will find yourself on the other side of the pain stronger, and it will take time so give yourself as much as you need.

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