Once upon a time. That’s how fairytales begin, right? I’m going to share a fairytale with you today, about a princess…it may not seem to have anything to do with photography, but stick with me and I think you’ll see why this story is one that needs sharing.
Once upon a time, there was a princess named Lacey. She was beloved not only by her kingdom of East Lansing (GO GREEN!) but much of the surrounding kingdoms as well. Even that other kingdom down the way called Ann Arbor (I have to give you some grief AA, but deep, deep, waaaaay deep down, I love ya!). She wasn’t your typical princess; she wasn’t spoiled rotten, she didn’t act as if she was more important than others. As a matter of fact, that’s what made her so beloved, she accepted everyone for exactly who they were. Blessed everyone she saw with a dazzling smile. She didn’t care about the color of a person’s skin, but the content of their character. Her best friend and “big brother”, Adreian Payne, is a 6’10” young black man. She didn’t care what size or shape a person came in, she smiled and accepted them into her heart, no matter what. Ah crap, I feel tears already starting to form, but the show, as they say, must go on.
Princess Lacey came to rule over East Lansing in a most unique way. You see, when she was 6-years-old, she was diagnosed with cancer. The Michigan State University Men’s basketball team visited the hospital to hang out with sick children, and as soon as the team met Lacey, their worlds, and the world of the kingdom, forever changed. This beautiful, smiley little girl captured hearts like one has never seen, and her reign as Princess began.
At one point in the princess’ journey, she became paralyzed from the dark, evil disease. Instead of giving up, this “tomboy with a tutu”, as her mother Heather describes her, fought with true inspiration to not only walk again, but dance too, all while smiling and her blue eyes shining. Her grit and spirit prompted cheers and love from all over the land.
When you imagine a princess, perhaps you think of a royal palace with servants and jewels galore and a royal throne. Princess Lacey’s throne wasn’t that of gold or silver, encrusted with diamonds and rubies, it was a stadium seat. Her palace was large, but it wasn’t really a palace at all. It’s where the MSU Spartans and her “big brother” play basketball, the Breslin Center. She loved her palace; she saw beauty in it in a way only true Spartans do. Her smile graced basketball fans from all over the country this season, as she traveled to watch her adored Spartans. Indianapolis, to New York and even to Dallas, (for the college dunk contest to cheer on Payne. Dunks, after all, were her very favorite part of basketball.), adoring fans saw not only great basketball, but our little princess, smiling, living and loving.
Shoot, here come the waterworks. Princess Lacey passed away Tuesday, April 8 in her mother’s arms. The hearts of the kingdom are shattered at the passing of their beloved princess. However, her legacy lives on. At the memorial service at her “palace”, there wasn’t a dry eye as her people watched videos of her dancing, singing and smiling, saw photos of her throughout her life ALWAYS smiling, even when she lost her hair, even when she was fighting to relearn to walk. Not one person who attended the princess’ memorial walked out the same person.
Every fairytale needs a moral, so I suppose I will get to it. This princess taught everyone she met, and even those she didn’t, many important lessons. I never met her, but I feel her spirit and love within me. I have never met her family, or Payne, but I want to wrap them in my arms and squeeze them so ridiculously hard until they say, “Okay, psycho, you can let go now…Security!!!” What I learned from my darling princess is we need to love others as well as ourselves. When she was bald from the cancer, she loved herself. When she put on her long, blonde princess wig, she loved herself. When she danced her little heart out, she loved herself. Most importantly, she loved others. She was accepting of everyone she met. She fought with the spirit of the Spartans, like King Leonidas himself. Our princess fought with a courageous heart and never. Stopped. Smiling. She never. Gave. Up.
In life it’s easy to get down. We all go through trials and tribulations, whether they are personal or professional. Some of us need to book more sessions and feel like we are failures because our calendars are looking a teensy bit empty. Some of us need fewer sessions because we are drowning in work and trying to please clients all while putting our own families on the back burner. And still others who are dealing with other photogs in their area not treating them so nicely. We are a big community, folks. Instead of getting down on one another, let’s try to lift each other up. Let’s INSPIRE one another as Princess Lacey has inspired so many to live with dignity and grace.
Another lesson, take time for your family. We just never know when our precious moments together may come to an end. Sorry, I don’t want to be morbid, but it’s freakin’ true. Pick up your camera and snap photos of your spouse candidly, your kids, your parents, your dog, and heck, even your pet chinchilla if that’s what you love! I know Lacey’s family will treasure the thousands of photos they have of her and can always look back and see her smiling face, knowing she is now dancing with the angels in Heaven.
Whenever you’re down or feel like you’re a failure, or even ready to knock someone’s block off because they are driving you crazy, (been there and wanted to do that!) step back. Take a deep breath. Remember the princess. And Love Like Lacey.