Photographs are often used to reflect on the past, but for one dad from Ohio, old wedding photos recently became a bridge to the future, as well.
Ben Nunery married his best friend, Ali, in 2009. Having settled on their soon-to-be home just one day before the wedding, Ali and Ben had wedding photos taken in the empty home they would soon fill.
The couple was married and slowly began to make the house their own. But after only two years, 31-year-old Ali battled a rare form of lung cancer that took her life, leaving behind her husband and 1-year-old daughter, Olivia.
Now, two years since the passing of his wife, Ben expressed his thoughts on his blog, "Rock Pink 4 Ali."
"The last two years have been a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least. There have been ups and downs to such extremes that it leaves me wondering how I’ve managed to piece together anything that resembles a normal and happy life," Ben wrote.
"But, hindsight being what it is, I can look back now and recognize the progress I’ve made as a grieving widower and a single father to an amazing little girl."
Ben soon realized that the next step in his life with Olivia was to move into a new home.
"We said goodbye to Ali two years ago, but her presence has remained undeniable in that house. Every square inch of it was carefully and thoughtfully decorated by her, and it was as if she had never left," Ben wrote.
"I found comfort in bottles of shampoo and drawers full of socks and jewelry still neatly organized. But always in the back of my mind I knew I would eventually have to say goodbye to the shrine that I was building up in my mind just like I had to say goodbye to her."
They made the decision to move, and as Ben was packing up the last few boxes, he struggled with saying goodbye to the house that had been there at the beginning of his new life. So Ben called upon his sister-in-law, a photographer who had taken his wedding photos, to document him and Olivia in their empty house, in some cases recreating poses from Ben and Ali's wedding pictures.
"This time I would have a different partner, although one just as beautiful," Ben wrote. "It was fun and strange and sad and comforting and just about every other emotion you can think of. And, it wasn’t until I drove away that the significance of what we had just done hit me like a ton of bricks. These would be the last memories in that house."
Although it was difficult to finally say goodbye to the house that was full of his wife's memory, Ben ultimately expressed that he learned her memory would never be gone.
"I did it for me. I did it for us. I did it so I would have something to show for the love and beauty that occupied that house for a short time in our lives. I wanted to be able to show Olivia the place where her mother and I started our lives together and dreamed of raising children," Ben wrote.
"I thought it would be much harder to say goodbye in this way, but as I sat in the driveway, ready to drive away for the last time, I realized that it’s just a house. The memories of Ali don’t live in that house. They live with us, in our hearts."
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company