of hope and karma and newborn toes

big huge monumental scary things are all around us. i have no answers. donate? pray? educate and recycle? karma. i truly believe in universal energy. every little thing matters. every act of kindness. like marlene. i met her at our local coffee shop. she had a baby with her. (it's always okay to make conversation with women who have babies with them, right? plus she just looked interesting, and i couldn't stop myself from striking up a conversation.) she seemed, maybe, a little old to have a newborn. but who knows? and the gorgeous child, swaddled under multiple blankets, had skin of a different color. i asked how old. and then we were chatting. and i heard some of her story. and she had my card. it went from there.

i invited marlene to bring the baby to be photographed without even a second thought.

marlene is a volunteer. she cares for infant babies who are ready for adoption but have not yet been placed with their families. these babies stay with her from the time they leave the hospital for four to six weeks. she holds them, rocks and soothes them, feeds and wakes with them, changes, bathes and warms them, she mothers them. when the babies are handed to their forever mothers and fathers those parents can be certain that even though their babies weren't with them for the first weeks of their lives, they were with someone who loved them.

as i clicked shot after shot, i couldn't help thinking of the parents. the parents who wouldn't have the opportunity to hire a photographer—should they want to—to photograph the fleeting infant moments. the tiny hands and amazing newborn skin. i couldn't help thinking about what they might be feeling when marlene placed that baby in their arms. and the gift i could give them of sending them these photos. i hope i get the chance to photograph her as she grows and follow the progress as she and her parents become a family.

of marlene and i? as long as she volunteers of herself, i'll do the same. really, who gets the gift here after all?

and that women at all stages, at all ages, continue to bond over their mothering, over their experiences and their womanhood? and that friendships form from tiny sparks of conversation on the coffee shop line? and people, like marlene, give of themselves—it all gives me hope. and hope is what i need right now to keep me putting one foot in front of another.