You don't necessarily need
everyone else to understand
every little meaning
behind a photo you make
as long as you know
what it means for you.
My fiancé, Drew, died when I was 29. We had
been together 3 years that week. He died in a
helicopter crash, so it was unexpected, sudden.
When I looked back, and I've heard many
people say this, it feels like a part of us knew.
Subconsciously we had a feeling of having a short
amount of time together. The way we lived was
very spur of the moment, carefree. We just didn't
let things get to us. We had every adventure
that we wanted to have. There were no regrets.
There were no things that we didn't get to do or
any of that stuff. It was strange looking back and
thinking, ‘Wow, we really made use of that time.’
I had a lot of regrets about my dad’s passing,
so to lose my life with Drew and not have any
regrets was an odd but incredible blessing.
The trauma of Drew’s death ripped everything
away. I fortunately had a huge support system
that helped give me the space to breathe. For
three years I lived with Drew’s family and healed.
They gave me the chance to figure out what I was
28 | ART OF DYING
going to do and how I was going to rebuild. I had
the luxury of not having to worry about paying
my bills, which was a huge help.
Creating things was all I had left, all I cared about,
all I wanted to do. I couldn't believe that I was
still capable of feeling the joy creating brought
to me. It was a survival joy. I say survival because
after Drew died, I was literally afraid I was not
going to survive. I wasn’t suicidal or anything like
that, but I was afraid that my soul had been so
broken that it would never recover and I would
just be this shell of a person. About a month
after his death I started writing a blog recording
memories of him and sharing what I was going
through. It was a way to honor him, to keep his
My writing ended up tumbling into the portrait
series. I had been taking selfies on my phone
when I visited Drew at the cemetery. This became
a new way to connect with myself. This was a