"Hello Mario, it is not going well with Jasmin. She doesn't eat or drink much and she is tired most of the time. We hope she can go home soon. Unfortunately, she has to deal with difficult subjects like euthanasia but she has been able to accept her situation very bravely. Luckily she manages to enjoy her days, showing our wedding pictures to everybody for example."
An urgent request
It was September of last year when I got a call from Rob, he said he was the brother of a pretty bride I had the honor to photograph a couple of years ago.
"Hi Mario, our plan was to call you next year instead of now. My girlfriend Jasmin and me are getting married. She is a big fan of your work and we'd like to know if you want to photograph our wedding. The plan was going to get married next year but due to some problems we've been forced to accelerate the wedding."
Off course I was happy to hear that Jasmin liked my work and that they wanted to hire me. Unfortunately I was already booked for the day. "Yes, I understand and don't want to cause you trouble, but Jasmin really want you to make the pictures. If it's impossible to you then we'll accept it but we would really appreciate it if you accept." Rob told me then that Jasmin was very sick and that they were afraid she wouldn't make it to next year.
Ten months before Rob called me, Jasmin suddenly started feeling sick. From there it all started to look worse and worse. The doctors discovered that cancer had chosen her to invade her body. For months she did everything to get rid of it and failed. Sometimes it looked like Jasmin was getting better to suddenly get worse again and again. Rob called me just after Jasmin had been very sick because of that, she realized she would not make it to coming year so she decided to not let cancer keep her from realizing one of her dreams. She decided to marry the love of her life. A wedding, her wedding had to be arranged.
Of course, it didn't matter what I had to do on their wedding day (if it wasn't another wedding), that could be moved to another date, anybody would understand. So after some hours it was arranged and the people from the company I had to work for completely understood. With mixed feelings I was officially going to photograph their wedding day.
Love always comes back to you
It happened three years ago, I saw Jasmin for the first time. She was a beautiful athletic woman, full of life she had long hair and a contagious smile. She was already with Rob on the wedding day of Rob's sister. At the moment I was focused on my work so I didn't pay attention to them that much. As a photographer, you never know where your work will end up or who is going to look at it. With all the love you have you try to be on the right place at the right time. You try to be invisible and not to interrupt any important moment. You do your best to capture every deciding second on the best way possible and not miss anything. You do all this with the hope is to make people happy no matter who they are or when they're going to look at your picture.
But it was after a long time that I got to know that I had photographed more weddings thanks to Jasmin spreading the word about my work.
As a photographer, the love you put in your work will always come back.
The hurricane Ophelia had covered the day with a golden sky. On the news you could see pictures where a warm layer of light wrapped entire cities. It was like the dream of every photographer, a day long golden hour. It was a special day for a wedding.
Because of the situation, the wedding was exclusively for the closest members of the family. It was very small and very intimate.
Patiently, we all waited in the ceremonial room until Jasmin would walk in. We were all nervous en excited. It was a bittersweet feeling and I was expecting to see lots of tears and sadness. What we never expected was that Jasmin would not let cancer steal her happiness on her wedding day. One second was all she needed to put a smile on every ones face. Walking next to her father stormed the room, dancing to the happiest song I've heard on a wedding ceremony, Plage from the Crystal Fighters. The ice was broken and there weren't any serious faces in the room. It was an awesome sign of liveliness, a sign of courage and happiness I will never forget. The wedding was a celebration and there was no place for sadness, the only tears shed were because of love and happiness. If you ask me, that's how every wedding should be.
After the small and touching ceremony, we went to the Slot Doddendael, a small cottage on the outskirts of the city. There would the family have a wedding brunch.
There I stole the the beautiful wedding couple and made what are to me some of my most beautiful pictures. Maybe because of Ophelia's light, maybe because of the emotional load, I don't know but they are to me very special ones. Jasmin is without a doubt once of the most beautiful persons I've photographed.
Just a couple of hours of the wedding had past when Jasmin got tired and just like that the day had come to and end. It was time for to go home.
Due to the amount of work during the wedding season it takes at least three weeks until I can deliver the wedding photos. But since this was a special situation I asked Rob to let me know if it suddenly Jasmin's health would get worse. In that case I could put them at the top of my priority list if needed. I didn't really expect it to happen when I said it but after some days that was unfortunately the case. Jasmin had a relapse and had to be immediately brought to the hospital.
For the first time in a long time adrenaline kept me from my sleep, I don't really enjoy working all night long but those days weren't hard at all. After a couple of days, their photos were ready and sent them to Rob and Jasmin as soon as possible.
Some hours passed by and I finally got a message back from Jasmin who still was at the hospital. They were very happy with the pictures, they could relive their day and were thankful. I was on the other hand just relieved I could make it happen on time.
Sadly, three weeks after the wedding there were bad news. At the age of 27, a young woman with so much potential and lust for life had left this world. She could finally rest from all her pain and stop with her struggle.
The same evening, her parents visited me and were so kind to share their pain and pride with me. They told me that Jasmin stayed strong until the last moment, she kept a smile on her face until the moment she left.
Jasmin is an example to me, an example of strength and courage and vulnerability. She is the perfect bride to me, lots of heart, lots of hope, a great passion for life and kindness. She left a deep impression on me and I'm sure on everyone who had the luck to meet her.
How beautiful and honorable is to be able to make people happy with your work? That's what I think on every wedding I shoot. But this one was a special one, for many reasons so memorable, so important. I will never forget it and because of that...
Dear Jasmin, dear Rob, thank you!
Jasmin was a promising cancer researcher. Unfortunately her life wasn't long enough to find a solution or a cure for herself and the rest of the people who struggle with the sickness. That was her passion and her dream.
Luckily we still can help in the battle against cancer. Through this link you can read more about how to help.
If you for some reason don't have the time of the resources to help you can always spread the word or share this blog with everyone. Who knows, maybe someone will be touched by Jasmin's story and will want to help Jasmin to realize her dream, even after her death.