When Erica from Make-a-Wish foundation called me on Thursday I had no idea that the job she had for me would impact my life so greatly. As a photographer I have been a part of many peoples precious moments and greatest memories documenting each one to the best of my abilities. This time I would be capturing moments that most parents fear and pray they never have to live through. Like most people I have met in my career Amanda, David and Isaiah are truly wonderful people but what sets them apart from the rest is their remarkably touching story. A story of courage and the power of love so amazing that I must share it with you.
Isaiah is 3 years old. He was born a perfectly healthy baby boy in Liberia. It wasn't until he was around 3 months of age that his mother noticed something was not right. Isaiah had an abnormally large head for a baby his age and this could only mean one thing, neurological problems. She began traveling form mission to mission looking for the help her son needed with no success. When she went to the liberian government asking for them to send him out of the country and to the United States for the medical attention he so desperately needed she was turned down. There reasons were simple, she was still alive and Isaiah was not an orphan. On she traveled from port to port in search of anyone who might have room to take them with. For 2 years she went on searching for the help her son needed facing many struggles along the way. The illness Isaiah had left him unable to walk making it impossible for her to go anywhere without her carrying him. The people of Liberia believed that the disorder that left Isaiah with an enlarged head was as a sign of the devil and threatened to stone anyone effected by it. So everywhere she went she made sure to hide his head from the public eye until she was no longer able to. Her own heartbreak aside she gave Isaiah up for adoption.
Isaiah was taken in by a foster family in Missouri where he received the medical attention he so desperately needed. He was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus which is a build up of fluid inside the skull, leading to brain swelling. Hydrocephalus means "water on the brain." Isaiah underwent surgery to have a shunt put in and shortly after that in August he was adopted by aFamily in Grand Rapids Michigan. Amanda & David along with there 2 cats, 2 dogs, sons Chris & Cole (also a make-a-wish child) and a foreign exchange student became Isaiah's new family and a wonderful one at that! When Monday rolled around things seemed to be going down hill with Isaiah's health and he became unable to breathe. He was rushed to Urgent care where he was put on life support. Cat scans revealed that the Shunt had caused so much pressure in his skull that it collapsed his brain taring all the blood vessels in his skull making him bleed internally andeventually fell into a coma. They were able to save his brain stem but by Tuesday they ran out of options and decided to take him off life support. Since he was an organ donor they had to wait for Isaiah to die a cardiac death before they could proceed, but after waiting 45 minutes for this to happen Isaiah's strong and healthy 3 year old heart kept beating. The decision was made by the family to take him home. Hospice was called and by tuesday night he was at home in his own bed with his dogs, cats, brothers, parents and
Being the fighter that he is Isaiah was still going strong by Thursday when Make-a-wish decided to grant the family their last wish for him and I was called. " I want pictures of his precious little feet that have never been walked on and his little hands so that I can always remember how soft they are," His mother told me as we both held Isaiah's soft little hands. With camera in hand and tears in my eyes I took with honor the opportunity todocument what might be this families last days with there darling Isaiah. Amanda (mom) told his story to me an decided that "God just needs a really cool kid I guess to help him out in heaven. He and God have things worked out and when his time comes it will be right and we will all be at peace with it." With every word she spoke Isaiah's eyes fluttered as if he could hear her voice and wanted to open his eyes and look at her. For Amanda I prayed he would, one last time, just for her. As of this morning Isaiah was still with us, his family will stay in my prayers and hopefully yours and when it is that little angels time to go it comforts me to knowthat the memory of Isaiah will live on through my photographs.