And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love - you make...

I'm sitting here wondering though is this really the story to share after all this time? And ultimately I hit send because while this story is extremely personal to me, it’s also a universal story. And I need to say that many of you have been affected by this particular story, and I have profoundly felt your grace, patience and support through it all. Thank you.

In 2006, the doctors said he had a year to live.

A year.

I knew immediately that I wanted to help the final days of this man's life to be filled with the kind of peace and love and care that only proximity can bring.

This man. My mother's husband.

My dad.

He never changed my diapers or picked me up from grade school - I didn’t yet know him in those early years. But he was there when I got my braces, when I got my driver’s license, and when I gave birth to my children.

So when he got sick, I moved my little family (back then it was just me and my three sweet boys) into a teeny tiny (600 sq. ft.) beach cottage within yelling distance of my parents.

We wanted to make this last year great. Filled with love and memory making and as easy as possible for everyone.

That was ten years ago.

He passed away this past April. That means we got nine “bonus” years. Years filled with surgeries for him, special trips together for all of us, many "this is it - cancel everything" moments for me and even the birth of my sweet daughter - his granddaughter (who got to know and be loved by him for 6 memory worthy years).

After ten years of living next to and taking care of my dad, this April I sat at home by his side, along with my mom while he breathed his last breath.

What a day. I’m still in awe. His passing was, like him - equal parts exciting, real, beautiful and steady.

It was life-affirming, mysterious and wildly honoring for me to be a part of it.

There are people we get in this life as our blood line, there are people we choose as family and for many of us there are friends who feel like family.

And then there are the family members that others bring into our lives. People that we don't choose for ourselves. The “step” family members. Even that title suggests the way that we sometimes hold them a bit apart, not immediately welcome into our lives. But if they are willing to give it their whole heart and we are willing to give them a chance, they can change our lives for the better forever.

I'm so grateful that I let Brian Taylor into my life and heart when he married my mom all those years ago - to my children he has always simply been “grandpa” - no step, no qualifiers, no explanations needed. And I'm grateful for all the bonus years I got to have as I helped care for him.

His passing taught me so many things or maybe just allowed me to experience so many things. Maybe I didn’t learn anything at all - and that’s ok. We don’t always need to be learning, doing, growing. Sometimes we just need to be. And for me - witnessing, holding space, loving - these are some of my most authentic ways of being.

I wanted to share the death of my dad with you for so many reasons. So many of you have revealed your hearts, your stories, your lives and your oh-so-beautiful selves to me in our sessions - this is what makes our work together so magical. These moments of connection also compel me to share some of the stories and moments that make up the tapestry of my own life with you. Thank you for being here, for listening and seeing me.

And maybe some of you are going through your own challenging time: a season when you are caring for a sick loved one or your young child(ren), while also running a heart-centered business and working on a partnership and fostering your relationship with yourself. Or some version of the maxed-out-stretched-to-your-limit-same.

Maybe some days you too have thought you may not be able to hold it all — do it all, no matter how much you want to, no matter how much you love all that's on your very full plate. Capacity is real. This shit can be hard! Especially when a chapter turns into a book.

I'm not sure that I have any wisdom to share and I definitely don't have any brilliant answers but I can tell you this, you're not alone. I see you and you are beautiful and even the longest chapters come to an end.

And also I want to share this story with you because to me, much like birth stories (and love stories and heartbreak stories and brand stories and family stories and all the important stories of our lives), death is real and beautiful and worthy of documenting.

To document and speak the heart-breaking + life-altering as well as the celebratory and transitional moments aloud with words and visuals into the universe is powerful and healing.

It’s likely that as I continue to process and reflect on this 10-year chapter and its dramatic and beautiful end, I will want to share more with you - to tell you about the events of the day he died, the magic and mystery that unfolded.

To show you the photos I took of him that day, even just an hour before he passed. To share with you the way that my camera and photography and the writing of his eulogy have all been my medicine through this process.

But there is more. These photos are not the only ones I want to show you. Life is rich and full and I’ve had some other wild and wonderful events happen in my life this year and many more remarkable things I’m living into during this new chapter (or book really).

We have moved and traveled and taken big, deep breaths both individually and as a family. And through it all I've had some of the most incredible people in front of my love lens and I want to tell you about each and every one of them.

It is amazing how many inspired and inspirational humans there are on this planet. I am so blessed to get to see the people who choose to work with me, and to reflect back to them and out into the world their magnificence through images and words. Truly, this is one of my greatest joys.

This year alone my camera has seen opera singers and authors, artists, therapists, coaches of all kinds, taoists, mamas, families, musicians, change makers. writers, and lovers - all of them are doing amazing and important work. And even some crazy delicious food has been witnessed by my love lens this year!

When I look at my calendar now and see who I have coming my way over the next few months I get butterflies - there will be jazz musicians, a successful family attorney turned divorce coach (revolutionary), a few amazing families that live both on and off the grid, herbalists, a psychic, a mama who just wants to take some time to see herself and then someone I’m oh-so-familiar with - my husband and his new (amazing) business partner.

Some of you have had the opportunity to work with my husband over the years and will likely be so happy to know that this photo shoot is part of a fantastic venture he is launching that will really impact people's lives in the online business universe (yay to smarts + innovation + good, kind and true men that do valuable work in our world). . The evolution of his new partnership is another magical life story that I can't wait to share with you (it’s a true bromance and a testament to what can happen when we show up, stay open and follow life’s lead).

As well as all of the amazing sessions planned I also have new classes I’m offering (squeeee!), more writing opportunities and a whole lot of self love built in to keep me fueled and filled and able to see with clear eyes and give from a full cup. I am really just so excited for what life is allowing me to do and my hope is that I can share these experiences with you in meaningful and inspiring ways.

But for now, let me just say thank you for being here. For making space for me in your life and in your inbox. I don’t take that honor lightly and I’ll always choose to keep quiet for a time rather than cluttering your space with more “stuff.” Just know that even in the quiet moments, the lag times - I am here.

I see this way that you have held space for me as a sacred act of love and I bow deeply in gratitude. This is the kind of experience I strive to create in front of my lens - the experience of presence, humanity and connection.

And what about you? Anything you’d like to catch me up on? Anything you'd love to see from me in this upcoming season? (feel free to hit reply, I’d love to hear from you).

Much love and many blessings,

Danielle

Danielle Cohen