this week has been exceptionally hard. on top of the normal crazy routine, i’ve chosen to put our business to the side, the house,
planning for our trip (which we leave for in a few hours!)…to focus on the precious little thing called life. as you will read below, our friends
chris and luci, have recently suffered a very traumatic loss. i was there with them through the entire thing and if you choose to read, i have
journaled my experience for them. before you go on, just take a second for me to thank God for your health…including all your major
organs which if you are like me, it’s never crossed your mind to do such thing… for your 10 fingers and 10 toes and your ability to run free
and simply hold a pencil. i could go on forever, but it’s these little things i’ve found myself thanking God for lately. it’s truly amazing when i
think about how my parents were blessed with three healthy, intelligent girls… and that we are still so lucky to have two
happily married parents. basic things that i’ve come to realize are actually more few and far between then
i’d always assumed. anywho, seriously i could go on and on but i need to stop before i become emotional again.
First off I want to thank Luci and Chris for asking me to share in this experience. Everything they have said and done the past 8 mths has touched me more
deeply than words could ever express. I feel I can’t articulate nor do justice the feelings I am trying to process. I remember mths ago when the Klares started this
journey. The first phone call from Luci, I will never forget. She told me she was having a twins!…but the twins appear to be conjoined from collar bone to the pelvis
bone and they believe they only have organs for one body. My heart sunk that day and it wasn’t until I saw those beautiful girls on Tuesday I was able to feel the weight
lifted off my chest. Luci updated me sometimes weekly, while other times were harder and she couldn’t bring herself to talk about it. It has been such a rollercoaster of
emotions for me, and like I’ve repeatedly said to Luci, I have no idea how you are waking up so happy each day, you are truly amazing. To be so faithful and so trusting
that even in times of deep sorrow, they still felt it was such a blessing. Though I believed it was a blessing all along, I still wasn’t able to understand it. Luci and
Chris asked me months ago if I could be there with them on the day the babies came and capture every second I could with my camera. I knew this was going to
be the hardest experience I would probably ever face, but I agreed to it because Luci means so much to me and if this was something God wanted to happen, then it
needed to happen. I’ve always been taught people come in and out of your life and each person will have a purpose. Six years ago when I met Luci, I could have never
imagined experiencing this with her. I truly believe this was my purpose for Luci, and Luci for me. When Linda, Chris’ mom, called me Tuesday to tell me it was time,
I was unprepared. Though I thought about this moment everyday for months, I became extremely overwhelmed. I began to sob. I knew it was time for Luci to give up
what she has loved SO DEEPLY for 8 mths. I was unsure exactly what to expect in terms of appearance and most importantly if I would even get to see them before they
became angels. Once I arrived at the hospital I was able to share a moment with Luci and Chris before and tell them I couldn’t wait to meet the girls. We anxiously
awaited their arrival in the chapel. I prayed that God do whatever will bring the most peace in the Klares hearts. I prayed that Hope and Grace would have no pain and
that Mary would be waiting for their arrival to take them home herself. And of course I prayed for the strength to pull it together and be strong for them. At about 6:30pm
the nurse came in and told us everyone is ok and well, and they were ready for me. Instantly BAM, the floodgates opened. I took a step back, took a deep breath and
their family said “just remember, you are photographing angels, and how much more of an honor is that? You can do this.” As I walked into the room they were
just arriving as well. Immediately upon entering, I felt this warmth, this joy, this peace… Heaven was literally in that room. It was if my tears were wiped away and all I
could feel was happiness. I saw Chris holding his girls with the biggest grin on his face presenting them to his beautiful wife. He sat on the edge of her bed and they just
gazed at their darlings. I instantly started shooting everything I could. I knew they’d be beautiful, but I never imagined them to be this perfect. As Dr. Coppage
explained each of their characteristics, Luci and Chris seemed so proud. Once Luci was able to hold them she gave them their first few kisses of the million she promised
them to follow. Soon the happy parents gave the twins their first bath. It was then I got to see how tightly they embraced each other and how naturally their heads fell
into a kissing position. I was in awe of this miracle. I then understood how Luci and Chris accepted this cross to bear 8 mths ago. These pure and innocent girls, this
miracle in front of me…these angels… they were perfect in every way. They bathed them as if they were parents of 10 other children. Chris was exceptionally great and
adorable as he gently moved them to clean every crevice. Each time they picked up a part of them I quickly snapped my shutter. I did not want to set up any shots for I
felt their natural movements with the babies were just right. Soon they were ready to show off the girls to the family. All the grandparents came in and with great joy held
the babies and kissed them all over. Fr. Came in and held an amazing service, though we already knew Hope and Grace were sitting on God’s lap in heaven. Next all the
aunts and uncles arrived in small groups. Looking at each person as they held the girls tight brought such warmth to my heart. Even as they teared up, Luci stayed
so strong. She’d call them over and hug them and tell them how happy she was and they should be. She said it best when she said, “I’m not sure what it feels like for
Heaven to pour down on me, but this must be it. I am just so happy.” It was true. God gave us these girls to teach us the beauty of life. To remind us how blessed we
are even in times when it feels quite the opposite. As the hours passed and it was getting late the nurse and I quickly grabbed some inked footprints and handprints.
Even though I took hundreds of photos, you can’t quite grasp the fragility and teeniness of them like you can’t with a print. When we were done, I picked up the girls
for the first time and kissed them myself. I thanked them for allowing me to be a part of their short life. I thanked them for the peace they brought to my heart, for
teaching me the importance of life, for it can be so fragile and short. And most importantly for reminding me that everyone I love so dearly, are not mine, they are
God’s children and I must surrender them. As I handed them back to Luci she told them for the hundreth time how pretty they were. Chris stood by all three of his
girl’s sides and wept. I knew at this moment, this was the beginning of the unknown for them. Their faith and families got them through this journey and it
will continue to get them through the rest of their lives together. Even yesterday when I shared the photos with them, they still seemed so happy. This is just so
remarkable to me. Everyone I have shared this story with says, “I don’t know how they did it, because I know I couldn’t.” I hope these images continue to give you
peace for years to come. And as your family grows (big!!), each child will get to see their big sisters and be as proud as we were this week. You have no idea how much
it meant to be to be part of this amazing journey. I thank you for inviting me into the most intimate part of your lives thus far. I am deeply comforted in knowing that
my baby inside me now has 6mths to make best friends with your girls in heaven!! How cool is that? I know they are and always will be looking down on us.
I will never forget the feeling on heaven upon us.
I love you guys and I am here to share with you every high and every low. Love, Melanie.
hope is on the left and grace is on the right.
luci is amazing. i hope i can love my babies like she’s loved hers.
chris is definitely luci’s soulmate. there was not a second where he wasn’t saying or doing the right thing. linda and jerry must be so proud
of the father and husband he has become.
dr. coppage holding the babes for the first time since they came out of the womb. they said their eyes were wide open and all four of the
Klares made eye contact with eachother!! i am SO happy they had that moment.
i think i counted four rosaries in the room at one point. luci held this during the c-section. and after it was placed on the girls first blanket!
you’d be amazed at their big feet, big hands and long legs!!
look at all that CURLY hair!!
i have so many favorites it’s too hard to choose. but this is definitely one.
i truly have never seen such perfect feet. i’m going to frame each of their inked footprints next to this for them.
after their bath they got to wear the worlds teeniest diapers. naturally if their arms aren’t embracing, then their hands fall together! amazing…
little hope’s beautiful face. i’m sure you are wondering how we can tell the difference…grace’s spine had a curve in it that kept her head leaning
back a little. even at every ultrasound they could tell the difference between the two! how cool…
the embrace. straight out of the womb they held on tight to eachother!
the grandmas meeting the girls for the first time.
though their life was only a short 46 minutes…they have sure left a heavy footprint in this world.