A glimpse into the life of Isaac Martindale, written by his Mother, Julie Martindale.
His eyes reflected light from the moment we met him. Our sweet Isaac was born healthy with a promise for a long and happy life ahead of him. But, just a few days later, he contracted an infection that changed the course of his life...and ours. The infection attacked his brain and made even breathing difficult for him. He would never walk. He would never talk. His life would be so drastically different than the dreams we had for our other children. We began grieving early on for what he would never be able to do or experience. And then we met him and everything changed.
We no longer saw a baby who had lost so much due to that infection. We saw a ray of sunshine beaming from this little boy…and it pierced our heart. We adopted Isaac right after his first birthday. The road we would walk alongside him, we knew, would not be an easy one. There was a feeding tube, oxygen tanks, seizure logs, and lots and lots of prayers that went into keeping our little boy thriving. Despite all the challenges, Isaac did thrive. He went to Disneyworld. He loved going to the zoo and hanging out with his family. He never said a word but he spoke volumes to us. He shared his shining light with everyone he met.
We began to have hopes and dreams for our son in the same way every parent does. We expected to have him with us for many years. Each moment with him was a gift and we never lost sight of that when we cared for him each day. His good days outnumbered the bad and we made sure those good days were spent telling stories, having adventures and snuggling…lots and lots of snuggling.
It happened so gradually, we barely even noticed. His bad days started coming more frequently. Days that meant even more medical treatments and more time just working to keep him pain and seizure free. And when he turned six years old, we met with the doctors who had walked alongside us as we cared for Isaac. They helped us to see that things were beginning to change for him. They did not pretend to know what the future was going to hold, but they did help us to hear what our little boy was telling us. He was tired. His body was wearing down. It was time to talk about what we wanted for our precious son if the end of his life was nearing.
It is a conversation no parent ever, ever wants to have. It caught us off guard. But, deep down we knew that things had changed and that we needed to consider what Isaac would want if his life was truly coming to an end. Isaac spoke loud and clear. We knew he would want to be with us…cradled in our arms with his family all around. We knew he would want to experience no pain or fear…just the love that surrounded him his whole life.
And so as the hospice care team began helping us care for Isaac at home, there were a few things that I knew we wanted. I wanted handprints of my little boy. I feared that his memory would be forgotten and I worked to make sure that we would have reminders of our beautiful boy everywhere we turned. I wanted photos. I wanted to remember every phase of Isaac’s life. We had plenty of snapshots of his life, his beaming smile and his beautiful eyes…but I also wanted to record the love we shared together during his last days as well. I wanted to remember his whole story...every moment.
It wasn’t easy to find a photographer who felt comfortable coming into a home filled with sadness. It takes a special person to be able to come in and be there in the midst of the grief and still capture the beauty of a life well lived. And that is when we met Yetty. We had never met him and yet less than 24 hours before Isaac took his last breaths on this earth, he walked into our home a stranger and left hours later a member of our family. He shared a scared and beautiful time with us…photographing the sorrow, the joy and the full life that Isaac had lived. He gave us a gift that we will cherish forever….photos. And in his death, there was new birth. The birth of the Isaac Initiative. Isaac reflected light onto everyone he met on this earth. And even in his death, his light is still shining through the Isaac Initiative. We feel his spirit alive and near to us and we are so grateful that we were chosen to be his family…to walk this beautiful, complicated life with him. Now, through the Isaac Initiative, other families who are facing the same unimaginable grief that we have experienced can have the opportunity to have photos taken during this sacred time if they choose. They can capture the depth of emotion that comes with life and death.
So, through the loss of our son, Isaac, we are so grateful for his legacy to live on through all of those who are working hard to give the gift of photos to families who must say goodbye for now to their child. Isaac’s light truly shines on…