What would you do if you knew your time on this earth was limited? Not in a general, “we’re all going to die” way, but in a very immediate and concrete “I have a few months to live” way? Confronted with your own, impending and non-negotiable mortality, what would you do? Would you break down and cry, struggling to make sense of a universe that considered less than 30 years of your existence enough? What would you do? Would you accept your fate without a fight or would you go down kicking and screaming? Would you lose your mind, or find strength in the thought that your death will hurt those around you more than it would affect you? Would you be terrified? Would you focus on you, or your loved ones? What would you do?
When I met Loredana before her wedding, before her passing, I asked her that. And here’s the thing. When confronted with such an immense idea, there’s no way you can know how you will react. You simply can’t prepare for that. Trauma is like that. Until it happens, you just can’t know how you would react and you can’t ever be really prepared. Loredana was an amazing person in life and she stayed a champion in the face of death. Her time limited, she decided to get married to the man she loved. They had a small, intimate, incredibly emotional wedding. They did none of the things they didn’t believe in. They did all of the things that were important to them with love and care and affection. There were tokens of the things that were important to Loredana the crusader during her life – her fight for Rosia Montana, for freedom, for fairness. There were friends from all over the world there, not to say goodbye, but to celebrate life and love.
Loredana passed away a month after her wedding. She left behind a grieving husband, a grieving family, and grieving friends. She also left behind the memory of a life well lived and the seeds of a legacy. A story worth telling.
And here’s the thing. Death doesn’t happen to those closest to you, it happens to you and you alone. Those closest to you are left with the grief and mourning and longing for one more hug, or embrace, or smile that never happens. There is no love without grief. All her friends and loved ones mourned in their own way. It wasn’t easy, it never is. Her husband, Nathan, struggled with her passing, is doing better now but that pang of longing will never really go away. But there was a light that shone through.
Bonnie, her mother-in-law, wrote a children’s book about their story, with help from Loredana’s friend and super talented illustrator Alexandra Radu, so that her nephew could know Auntie Lore.
And the amazing thing – those who loved her wanted her legacy, like her life, to be about giving back. So they decided to use this book to raise awareness for a cause that Loredana believed in. The Association for Liberty and Equality of Gender (A.L.E.G.) is a Romanian NGO that works to prevent violence against women and children and to promote gender equality. They provide counselling for women and children, offer training for community leaders, and advocate for legislative change.
For me, Loredana’s wedding was the hardest wedding I ever photographed. Because I knew the outcome. I never realised it would be so soon. I was photographing another wedding when I got the news. Happy couple, during their own special day, oblivious to the world outside, as they should be. I stepped out, cried, recomposed myself and went back to work. But I still think about Loredana. Our coffee and beer chats pop to my mind randomly. Her irresistible smile, whenever I look back on the photos. I’m sad that she left us so soon and I’m happy for all the people who were lucky to be part of her life.
If you knew Loredana, if you have similar stories in your life, of love and loss or trauma, please consider buying the book or making a donation to A.L.E.G. We cannot bring them back, but we can remember their stories and honour their legacies.