“Hello Neale, do you remember me, Sarah Cornish?”
I’ll not forget the phone call in April 2011. I’d photographed Sarah, her partner Wilson and their young daughter Darcey a few years prior as a portrait. And now Sarah and Wilson were to be married. My enthusiasm and genuine gushing congratulations were rather tamed by Sarah’s next sentence. She had a brain tumour. It had all started Boxing Day 2010 with a severe headache. But now that all medical tests had been concluded, she faced facts. In Sarah’s words from her blog at the time; “With 6 weeks of aggressive radiotherapy and concurrent chemotherapy, plus a further 5 months of chemo the median expectancy is 12-14 months, so I’m with a chance of seeing Christmas 2011.”
I was speechless.
Words don’t often fail me, but they did at that moment. The marriage would be 21st April. Would I photograph the wedding? On the 21st April this year I photographed Sarah and Manson’s wedding, with further plans that I would chart the next year photographically, to make a book and a journal for their ‘Darling Daughter Darcey.”
I didn’t get the opportunity to fulfill that last part. Sarah passed away on the 1st September, a swifter conclusion and one that many had not expected.
Last Monday I attended Sarah’s funeral. Since then I have revisited the photographs from that day, and with Wilson’s permission have pieced together the images and audio I recorded in my own tribute to Sarah.
Sarah, I wish I had had the opportunity to accompany you further on this journey. Your courage, your wit, your steadfastness was incredible. I am humbled, truly, to have been there for you. All my love. Neale
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