Couple Photographer Brett Donar Captures the Subtleties That Make Us

These couple photos of us by Brett Donar at Black Balsam Knob in the Blue Ridge Mountains will always hold a big space in my heart. These are the last photos taken of me before my Mom went into cardiac arrest twice and fell into a coma for five days, before the doctors said if she woke up she’d most likely be brain dead, before she had to spend over a month in the hospital and undergo multiple surgeries—before my entire world tilted.

An event like this puts a marker on your life, there is before and there is an after. These photos mark the end of the before and I am so incredibly grateful to have them.


When you almost lose the most important person in your life, when you spend five days by their bedside amongst beeping machines and flickering monitors waiting for any sign that they’re still there, when you are stuck in limbo between the dead and living and have to wrestle with the thought of moving forward without them, when you fight to come to terms with them waking up as someone else—a shell of who they once were…

It changes you. It ages you.

It breaks your heart and even at the end of all of it, you’re struggling to put the pieces back together. But they’ll never fit quite right.


We loved working with couple and wedding photographer, Brett Donar. He takes all the subtleties that make up the big things, the true things, the things that matter and creates something rare, something full.

This is how he describes it and it is perfect…

The little, everyday things that make up all that you are together. The things that might be subtle, but made you fall for each other.

Those are the things that we want to document. The stuff that matters the most to y’all. We want to photograph the connection that lights your fire, the connection that says out of all of the humans in the world, you two found each other.
— Brett

When I flew out to California to pour all of my hope onto Mom I had to leave Perry and my boys (Jackson and Memphis) behind. That alone was excruciating.

Perry grounds me to all things good. Without him, I feel as if I can float away into nothing and be lost forever.


I braved the dark reality of long hours in the hospital room, the endless uncertainty of whether Mom would ever come home, and the paralyzing loneliness for two weeks before I had him back by my side.

He loaded up our car with our two pups and drove over 2,000 uncertain miles to be with me.


Not only does he provide me with stable ground to stand on, but he protects me from all the things lurking in the shadows that I cannot see. He sees them and shields my hopeful little heart. The first day of his arrival he took a full person’s worth of burdens from my shoulders and placed them onto his.

I could breathe again.


I love you, Perry Rhodes. Thanks for always having my back. Thank you for being here.


And it’s worth mentioning that Mom beat all the odds and proved all the doctors wrong. She woke up without any damage to her heart or her brain. She woke up as herself, but better because she woke up stronger. Strong enough to kick her addiction to meth and now, for the first time in my life, she is clean.

And I am happy.

You can read more about us and this crazy life we live over on my blog at


Thank you, Brett. Thanks for seeing us and capturing our love so beautifully.