If I were to sum up one of my recent visits with little Elijah, his parents and his two handsome brothers, that is how I would describe it. This image capturing his joyful smile is beautiful…but it becomes incredible if you know the story behind it.
More Than A Child Standing
I did not expect him to stand up! Elijah is learning how to walk again after being incredibly sick last fall. Talk about a tearful moment. I photographed this sweet little man a couple of years ago. A lot has changed in two years, but he still has the ability to make my heart SWELL. Such a sweet family…
We never know what tomorrow holds, but God does; He is forever holding Elijah’s hand, and through him is giving his family such joy.
During the part of my session in McKinney with Elijah and these very ‘smile-inspiring’ balloons, we ran into a friend of his.
More Than A Chance Meeting
I started snapping pictures, not knowing at the time that Elijah’s friend was injured while serving our country. Brandon Byers has been faced with his own serious challenges and I ask you to visit his family’s blog titled “I Will Walk Beside You”. And don’t forget to thank him and the next veteran you meet.
You are reading this because he and many others fought for your freedom to do so.
I’m still amazed that I was given the honor of capturing a moment between two brave fighters. Same war, different battle…different battlefields but kindred courage.
It just strikes me every time I see this photo….where would we be without the family that walks with us? And when we cannot walk, who are we without those who are there faithfully to lift us up and carry us to wherever the path may lead?
Author’s Note: The previous post appeared on my portraits blog back in March 2013. I wanted to share it here because I have since found there is even more to this touching story, and I couldn’t have relayed it any better than Brandon’s wife Megan who shared it with me:
“Brandon was injured on October 16 2006. He was in southern Iraq manning a 50 caliber machine gun on top of a humvee when a roadside bomb embedded in a curb exploded.
Doctors were able to salvage his limbs… And we went through years of surgeries to try to repair the damage that had been done. He even went as far as to have his knee replaced when he was just 27 years old.
In February of this year… Brandon went into the hospital to have his leg amputated above the knee. It was the best medical decision we have made in this aftermath. He felt amazing. The years of chronic pain and inability to heal had left him feeling drained and weak.
Just two weeks ago, Brandon got his first prosthetic…. And he took his very first pain free steps since 2006.
We met the Bullard family through some mutual friends at church. We really became close after their son, Elijah’s medical setback at the end of 2012. Because of everything I had been through caring for my husband… Elijah’s tubes and monitors didn’t seem scary.
Brandon and Elijah met for the first time on New Years. Elijah insisted on Mr. Brandon sitting next to him…. It was precious. They were little kindred spirits.”
It seems to me that on every level God has provided the opportunity for this special friendship so that Brandon and Elijah could encourage one another. But Megan’s words STILL make my breath catch….
“Because of everything I had been through caring for my husband… Elijah’s tubes and monitors didn’t seem scary.”
As a mother I cannot help but continue to feel so strongly about how the gift of Megan’s experience, through her and Brandon’s most difficult moments, made her the perfect companion and encourager for Elijah’s mother. None of this has happened to me personally, yet I feel so grateful to know the story and how it is turning out. And now, so do you.
Brandon after being fitted for his first prosthetic and ready to take some steps. Image from Brandon’s blog “I Will Walk Beside You” April 16, 2013
Brandon and his son enjoy a walk around the neighborhood. Image from Brandon’s Blog “I Will Walk Beside You”