My favorite thing about being a photographer is getting to know people and hearing their stories. I love experiencing the varied and unique ways people are made. I’m intrigued by the array of talents, propensities, and interests people have and how those things fit together to make each of us who we are. I love being inspired by acts of love and selflessness, and I know that I’ve grown in my ability to love and appreciate people because of the examples of the families, seniors, and couples I get to photograph.
Today I’d like to introduce you to two brave, inspiring, and strong young women…Sage and Molly.
I met Molly a couple of years ago; she was in a spin class I teach at the Y. She was in her first semester of her first year of law school at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. During her second semester I saw her less, and then we reconnected one Sunday morning at church in the fall of 2015. We spent a few minutes catching up on her school and then I asked her about returning to my spin classes. She told me she couldn’t right now because she had had some surgery and was recovering. Not wanting to pry, but also wanting to show concern, I asked her if she minded sharing what was going on. In a very nonchalant way she mentioned that she had donated her liver to a little girl who was dying of cancer. I never expected that answer, and her story is one of amazing love, sacrifice, and God’s faithfulness.
After hearing her account and reading a note she wrote on FaceBook, I knew I had to photograph her with Sage. I asked Molly to get in touch with Sage’s mom to see if she would like a celebration session with Molly. Everyone was in favor and excited for the session. We met at Oak Grove Park in Chesapeake, VA and had a lovely evening together taking family pictures of Sage with her mom, brother, and step-dad and of course, Sage and Molly together. With Molly’s and Sage’s mom’s permission, I’m honored to tell their story.
Molly was studying for her last law school exam of her first semester, when she and a friend decided to get a manicure as a study break. They set off for the nearest nail salon and waited for what she said was “an inordinate amount of time.” They almost left the salon several times, but while they waited a news story aired about a little girl from Portsmouth, VA who needed a liver transplant, and Molly knew immediately that she was supposed to apply to be the donor. She said it was “the strongest conviction I’ve ever felt.”
After applying she was told that other candidates were being tested so being a donor was put on the back burner. She accepted a paid summer internship in a law firm and continued to work her way through her second semester of law school. Then in February Molly found out that she was at the top of the donor list and was asked when she could schedule surgery.
After much prayer and council, Molly declined her summer internship, finished exams, and made several trips to D.C. where she had blood work, MRIs and psychological testing to confirm that she was the right donor. Every test came back looking good.
After the final pre-surgery test, the surgeon came in one last time to, in Molly’s words, “scare me out of the procedure.” He told her that he had thought that she must be crazy but it turned out that he, the other doctors and psychiatrists all agreed that Molly is quite “normal.” So, though scared, Molly underwent surgery and months of recovery to give life to Sage.
“The fact that a part of my body was removed, placed into another body, and is working to sustain her life blows my mind. The fact that both of our livers will grow to full size is undeniable evidence of God’s intricate and loving hand in the creation of our bodies. God has been so faithful to me through this process and He has taught me so much. He’s taught me that He is in control. He knows what is best for us and we need only be still. He’s taught me humility and patience. I have needed to ask for help doing some pretty basic things. I’ve needed help showering, moving pillows, carrying bags and driving, to name a few. And God has been faithful to humble me and allow me to ask for help. But He’s also been faithful to provide people who willingly serve me without judgment or expectation.”
And Sage? Sage is an outgoing, energetic, joyful, mischievous little girl who has a new hope because a stranger gave her part of her liver. She continues to battle for health with resilience and perseverance. She is a fighter and a brave little girl, and yes, she is fierce.