Thank you Light Inspired for the feature. Jennifer and her family are the epitome of inspirational light. More images from their recent family session and some words from my personal Facebook post about a woman I was fortunate to know.
October 8th, Dustin wrote to me and asked if I could make it to Virginia sometime before Christmas. He said they wanted updated family portraits WITH Gordon, their newest, fluffiest family member. He mentioned that he really wanted to do this as it may be Jennifer's last Christmas and she really wanted these images.
I made arrangements to go down 2 weeks later because Jennifer gets what Jennifer wants, as far as I am concerned. October 25th and she was full of light and energy. Handling Gordon when he is excited is a 3 man job, I'm sure of it, and she did it with ease. She looked great and of course her smile was just as bright as ever. We laughed, we talked, I took mental notes of her voice, of her mannerisms, of her love.
She was grateful for everything. "Thank you", she said when Dustin leaned over to kiss her cheek. "Thank you", she would say when William sat with her to hold her hand. She was present and acknowledging and I sat there absorbing her energy, grateful to know such a beautiful woman.
Yesterday, December 14th, I attended her service in Maryland. I listened as people spoke of her spirit in life, I was sad for all those I witnessed hurting from her passing, and I smiled when I heard her mom talk (they talk just alike). I enjoyed hearing a gentleman in the Air Force speak of how she was the best of the best, tough yet supportive. I hurt for William and Dustin and the rest of her family. I was honored to meet some of those I know she appreciated most and who traveled from afar to show their appreciation of her.
I only just met her in a Japanese Steak House a few years ago. I did not know her growing up, I didn't know the details of her career in the military, I did not know a lot about Jennifer, actually. What I do know, is that we met for a reason, as she trusted me with some of her most intimate moments.
I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have known such a beautiful soul, no matter how briefly, we connected and I will always carry her light in my heart. I love you, Jennifer Valentine-Bartlett , may you rest peacefully.