Goodbye, Emilie

January 5, 2009

Faith Outdoors

The joy of Christmas was dimmed a bit by the death of my former coworker at The Catholic Spirit, Emilie Lemmons. She lost her battle with cancer Dec. 23, and I attended her funeral at the Basilica of St. Mary Dec. 29.

On that occasion, I was reminded that Emilie had a love for photography, especially outdoor photography. It was an interest we both shared. For her, it started during the latter part of her employment here at the Spirit, where she worked until the birth of her son Daniel, now 2.

I remember her quizzing me on several occasions about cameras, lenses and techniques. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to display my knowledge of photography on her wedding day, as I gladly accepted her request to shoot her wedding. It turned out to be a beautiful May day and we got the chance to shoot some outdoor pictures outside St. Luke (now called St. Thomas More) and on Summit Avenue.

We were able to incorporate some beautiful lilac bushes in the photos. The flowers were past bloom, but there were plenty of beautiful green leaves to incorporate into the pictures. I remember how joyful Emilie was at being able to experience such a beautiful spring day. God certainly blessed her and her new husband, Stephen, with some of the finest weather Minnesota has to offer.

That contrasted sharply to the bitter cold that blasted our state the day of her funeral. It made this sad occasion seem even grimmer. I’m so glad I have some positive images of Emilie to hang onto. In fact, I was flattered to learn that one of the pictures I shot at her wedding was on display in the church during the visitation that preceded the funeral liturgy. It was a shot of her with her sisters. I remember that we took deliberate care to take this photo. It was important to Emilie and, I suspect, it is important to her family now.

Getting through the funeral was tough for me. As many people know, I lost my first wife, Jennifer, to cancer in 1995, leaving me a single father with two young sons, Joe and Andy, who were 3 and 2 at the time. Emilie’s husband is in a similar position. Stephen has two boys, Benjamin, who is 9 months, and Daniel. I was able to greet Steve before the funeral and I sincerely hope I can support him in the days and months ahead.

As tragic as this event is, there is hope for Steve and the boys. That is what I learned when Jennifer died and what I hope to share with Steve. Hopefully, as time goes on, he will be able to enjoy the opportunities to look at pictures of his wife, and also look at pictures taken by her.

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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

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