Image you're preparing for your wedding. Your gorgeous gown is hanging in front of an oversized window; the light hitting it perfectly so that, you swear, it rivals the magical powers of Cinderella's. You're sitting in a chair being tended to like a member of the royal family; someone curls your hair while another someone applies your makeup. You're excited and slightly nervous and in awe of the day you've been planning and looking forward to for months. Maybe even years.
Imagine walking down the aisle toward your future husband, smiling and tearful and anxious to become a wife in front of your dearest friends and family. You're smiling at the people who matter most as they wipe celebratory tears from their eyes, everyone so happy to be in the presence of love.
Now imagine your 8-year-old son couldn't be there to see it all. Imagine he had died, just months before your wedding day, succumbing to his long battle with leukemia.
36-year-old Anna Thompson doesn't have to imagine.
Anna's son, Lake, had battled leukemia for many years. For a small time, the brave young man was even cancer free. However, the cancer returned and just a few weeks shy of his 9th birthday, Lake passed away.
And while she felt Lake's presence on the day of her wedding, she felt an immense emptiness when it came time to take family photographs and one special person wasn't there. So, she asked the talented Brady Angel to photoshop Lake into their pictures. The end result is as beautiful as it is heart-wrenching.
It's clear that the family took special care to include Lake and his memory in their wedding day. And still, this unique photo gives Anna and her family a palpable reminder of the way they felt that day.
It was also a way to heal some of the heartache Anna felt the day she was married. Anna recalls her conflicting emotions, saying, "Although I felt his presence, it was almost unbearable to take family pictures without him."
Thankfully, Brady Angel was able to give Lake's family a beautiful and unique gift: a reminder that their son is never far from them.
Images: Courtesy of Brandy Angel