Story and photography by Fotocrew Member: Taylor Lord
Film by Fotocrew Member: Claire Huntsberger
Song: “Oceans” by Hillsong
In the Fall of 2005, I was a freshman at Baylor University, and was introduced to a few upperclassmen. One of these introductions was with the adorable, blonde, cheerleader Bailey McKissick. Any girl would have looked up to her. I don’t remember how we ended up at our local coffee shop, or what our connection was, but to this date, I remember that during our time together, she had a smile that lit up a room. I felt so encouraged by being around her that I didn’t want to leave. I shared a little bit of my story with her–my dad passed away when I was fifteen, and that had profoundly affected my relationship with the Lord for the better. We continued to stay in touch throughout our time at Baylor, but we weren’t able to spend much time together.
Fast forward about 7 years. I discovered Bailey’s blog through mutual Facebook friends who were sharing her story and asking for prayers. I read one post and wept. Her husband was suffering from terminal cancer. It was the second time in his life that he had battled cancer. They had a two-year-old baby girl. I could never imagine going through such a difficult circumstance with my own husband, and her strength, candidness, and trust in the Lord’s overarching plan for her family’s life was, once again, so encouraging. I can’t even vaguely imagine how much her transparency has positively impacted others’ lives.
Six months later, the cancer had overtaken Andrew’s body, and he was at home in hospice care. When I received the call from Fotolanthropy to come document their last days together as a family, I felt so undeserving. As a wedding photographer, I thought that I had come to understand the weight and responsibility of documenting a major event in a family’s life. This experience rocked me to my core and changed my view of photography forever. Getting the opportunity to document the most precious gift of time–something you can never purchase, something you can never control or alter, something that is completely out of your hands, something you can never get back–was a weight I had never felt.
We received the news four days after we left the Heard family that Andrew had passed away. Andrew was an amazing husband, father, son and friend–he was a visionary who also, through candidness and truth, has already left a huge impact on those left here through his own blog and book, A Gray Faith. Andrew ends his book in a reality that we can all relate to, no matter where we are in life. “Life on this earth is not over yet, although it may be soon. The rest of my time I walk in peace, in the quiet gray questions of our world, illuminate with a faith full of doubts, walking with a God who makes all the doubts pointless.”
Amen. Thanks for sharing your life and faith with us, Andrew.
Since Andrew’s passing in July 2013, Bailey continues to share her story and Andrew’s legacy at various churches and conferences around the country. “I help people who are experiencing tragedy understand that their current situation is not the end but can be the beginning of something great.” To connect with Bailey and check her speaking availability, visit Bailey’s website.