Remembering Ava

January 3, 2011 was a day that Andi and I will never forget. As some of you know, I volunteer for an organization called “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”.  I photograph families who have lost, or are facing the loss of their precious babies due to an illness or early birth. When I received the phone call about a beautiful little 3 month old girl that was going to be removed from life support, my heart instantly sank – but I knew we had to pull ourselves together to give this family memories of their beautiful little girl. When we arrived at the hospital, we were asked to wait outside of the hospital room until her parents had a chance to say goodbye to Ava. When the time came to go into Ava’s room, we were met by her parents Chuck and Shanna.

Andi and I couldn’t imagine what they were going through at that moment, but we knew that God wanted us there to capture these photos for them. Throughout the session it was so awesome yet heartbreaking to see how much love these parents had for their little girl. Before we left that day, Chuck pulled out his phone and showed us a few photos of Ava, and her beautiful smile. He was so proud of his daughter.  They told us that Ava had contracted Meningitis, and within a matter of days she had no brain activity and was removed from life support. (to find out more about this illness please visit We cried with them, and told them that when the time was right we wanted to be there to photograph their family in the future.

Since that day I have viewed life differently, I give my kids extra kisses at night and thank God for their health. One day Ava was happy and smiling, and the next day she was gone. I didn’t get a chance to see her beautiful smile in person, but I know that she will forever be in our hearts.


A little over a year after Ava’s passing, we received a message from Shanna. Not only did she ask us over to take their family photos, she also surprised us with some great news – they had twin boys that were almost 3 months old! We couldn’t have been more excited for them!

With the approval of Ava’s parents, we wanted to blog about our experience with Ava and her family. Here are some of their recent family photos from our session last month!

Chuck and Shanna – thank you for letting us be a part of your lives! We want you both to know that you are such amazing parents and wonderful people, and Ava will never be forgotten!

Brenda Samson - April 8, 2012 - 10:15 am

Thank you so much for the wonderful comments and pictures of Shanna, Chuck and their family. I am Shanna’s mom and I can’t thank you enough for being there for Chuck and Shanna when Ava passed away. Our precious angel Ava will always be in our hearts, and we are so grateful that God gave us the twins. You are right, Shanna and Chuck are wonderful parents, and that’s not just a proud mom saying that. Thanks Again.

Grandma Brenda

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