Life of Riley

Chris, Alissa, and Presley are no strangers to my lens. Having known Chris since he was born, I've jumped at the chance to document their little family growing over the years and so enjoyed getting my hands on their new little gorgeous girl, Riley, after she made her arrival earlier this summer. A few weeks ago Alissa sent me a text asking if I was going to be around the following day. Assuming she meant for a picnic, (we like those) I quickly texted back, "We have swim class in the morning but should be around later- what's up?" Her response made my heart drop into my stomach. "Can you call me when you get a chance?" I quickly dismissed my worries and thought, "She probably needs some breastfeeding advice or something." Regardless, I got Eloise set with dinner and dialed her the first chance I got. "Riley has no immune system."

I almost dropped the phone and, as if it wasn't hard enough for her to have said it once, I shamefully asked her to repeat herself.

"She was born with no immune system."

That simply can't be! Riley is round and cuddly. She is warm and rosy and perfect. Riley is everything but sick.

I quickly got the rundown of what that actually meant (see SCID) and in disbelief asked, "What can I do? Anything." Being a mother myself, Alissa's response came hurling through the phone and lodged itself directly in my throat. "I just was wondering.. we don't have any pictures of the four of us.. and it's something that has been bothering me and if..." Stop. Right. There.

The next morning I showed up at their house to photograph their last morning together as a foursome for awhile. I was not entirely sure what to expect but the morning was calm. Perhaps they were in a daze (of course they were), but it was clear that it wasn't going to be hard for me to capture their love as a family. In the midst of shooting they got the call that they were to bring little Riley up to UCSF for an undetermined amount of time. Their long journey was just starting. There are moments, as a photographer, where you realize just how important the images you are creating are... they are time capsules that can be beacons of hope that life can be beautiful. Photographs are powerful reminders of times inevitable passing and can aid in making memories last forever. I hope these images can provide a little hope and remind Chris and Alissa what they are working towards- a healthy baby safe at home very very soon.

So far Riley has taken to the life of a patient like a champ- smiling through medicine and sleeping through check ups...She is currently at UCSF awaiting a bone marrow transplant and will most likely be there for another 4-6 months. Her experience is being chronicled by her mama here and here. If you can help them at all during this tough time I'd be forever grateful as this whole ordeal is a bit of a financial nightmare. You can donate to Riley's cause here.

We have all the confidence in the world that Riley will be home safe soon and all my love is with Chris and Alissa and little Presley every day.


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