7Mar '18

So many pieces of heart – YANA Family 2018


Ten years ago, I had called YANA to tell them I thought I could help them with their branding via fresh photos, and we had a plan to meet. However, before we could sit down together, I had to cancel that meeting because our family, within that time, found ourselves in a situation where we needed YANA – so rather than helping them, they had to help us.  That week, our life was sent down a different path. 

During that journey I started documenting  – I tried to capture what a day was like for a sick child so that they could go back one day, and turn the pages of a photo album of their story. A story they might not remember, but that is undoubtedly an experience that forms who they become.

I shared that first story at an auction to raise money for the organization. Since then the YANA event has turned into a premier Comox Valley Big Love celebration and I have continued to document and share the stories of YANA families. This work humbles me and is very meaningful to me. Why does it matter? Hopefully, it helps raise money, but also, it is just the regular reminder that we never know what path people are walking in. Seeing peoples’ stories fosters compassion.

For me though, it is also about the families and giving them this keepsake of photos that help them hopefully process and validate their experience.

The story I shared this year is hard on the heart  – there is no doubt about it, but it also lifted me up as I sit in wonder of this amazing family’s resilience in the face of loss and fear.  

At 23 weeks, Natasha went into labour, and five days later gave birth to Rikley in the fall of 2016. Yana was there to offer their help. Natasha and her husband Paul didn’t need YANA’s help because this part of their story, sadly, ended very quickly. Rikley had 8 heart attacks in his  7 1/2 hours of life, and Natasha and Paul had to say goodbye to their first son the same day he was born.

While still processing saying goodbye to Rikley, Natasha became pregnant again, this time with twins.

At 23 weeks, again Natasha went into active labour, and they were flown to Vancouver Children’s Hospital that night.

YANA had them taken care of immediately.  

5 days after landing in Vancouver, their two beautiful boys were born – Maverick and Matthias. 

13 days later Matthias passed away.

Through this family’s journey, YANA has been by their side, and it has been a long journey. The YANA apartment in Vancouver gave them a place of safety. In a time that was overwhelming, confusing and in trying to make sense of a hurt that I can’t even imagine, they had somewhere to go where they could begin processing their tremendous fear and grief. It was the place that after they put on a strong united front at the hospital they could go home and converse,  try to make decisions and often cry. The one thing that was in their control was where they would lay their head down every night. YANA gave them that. Our community gave them that.

Maverick, despite all odds and after 215 days in the hospital,  came home and is thriving.

Thank you so much to Paul, Natasha and their family for sharing their story with our community.

(Please click here to view the full slideshow on YANA’s website)