This past September, I headed to Iceland for a workshop with Parker Pfister, an incredible photographer (and friend) from Asheville, NC. 2022 was rough, to be honest. Heartbreak, hard parenting times, loss, and struggles with depression really hit me hard. I craved something that allowed me to get out of my head and inspire me creatively. When I saw Parker’s workshop, I knew this was it. I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland and dreamt of seeing the Northern Lights; combine that with digging into my craft and being inspired as a photographer, sign me up.
September 11th was my day to hop on that plane and head to Iceland. I had been looking forward to this day for months!
I was literally boarding my plane at the gate when a close friend, Terra Bailey’s husband Trey, called me. I thought, hmmm, that’s odd, my friend’s husbands don’t call me, ya know what I mean. I can’t remember all the words he said, but I remember 4 words distinctly, “she didn’t make it.” I was dumbfounded and baffled, “what do you mean she didn’t make it?” Terra had an elective surgery and tragically passed away within a week of her surgery. I burst into tears and nearly hyperventilated. I couldn’t get on this plane. I can’t go to Iceland. What is happening? How in the world is this real? This can’t be real. This has to be a nightmare. It wasn’t, but I so wish it was.
I texted Parker and the group of photographers I was meeting in Iceland to let them know what was happening and tell them that I wasn’t sure I could be coming to Iceland. I physically couldn’t stand or stop crying enough to board the plane. I called my mom; she could hardly understand my words and kept asking me to repeat myself. I said, “Mom, Terra’s gone; she didn’t make it; she’s gone!” She gasped and said, “No, Lucy, no!” After a few minutes, she calmed me down enough that I could breathe, and she could understand what I was saying. My mom loved Terra; everyone loved Terra. She convinced me to get on the plane. She asked me, “What do you think Terra would tell you right this minute? She would tell you to go and stop being stupid; you need to go.” I hesitantly agreed and boarded the first leg of my flight to NY. I feel sorry for the guy sitting beside me. My face was red and splotchy, I had tissues everywhere, snot dripping out of my nose, and I was crying so hard I found it difficult to catch my breath.
I just kept hearing her voice and the funny stories we had shared a couple months prior when I was shooting her new headshots. She was pretty dang country and always started a story with “gurrrllllll.” haha.
I met Terra 13 years ago when we started as photographers. She was a spunky and fun kinda girl, my kinda girl. She was the kind of girl that firmly believed in ‘community over competition.’ We shared clients and referred each other all the time. She was creative, but I was always impressed with how brilliant she was with marketing and branding her business.
Terra went through a divorce the year before I did. When I shared with her I was getting a divorce, I was a hot mess. She held my hand and was a rock for me. I actually hung up my camera and retired from photography. Before I formed Lucy Parker Photography (again), I had a photography business with my ex-husband called Smitten and Hooked. I found it too emotionally hard to shoot weddings at that point and never thought I would be shooting again…but here I am…because of her.
Terra created something called ‘The Merry Lot,’ which were mini sessions around Christmas time. It was planned for months, and she went ALL out. It was her baby. When I was struggling and in a really dark place, she made me pick up the camera and shoot at the Merry Lot with her. She helped me find “me” again and realize why I loved photography.
Terra and I talked and met many times, coming up with business ideas. We wanted to start a business together, photographing elopements and focusing on second marriages. Obviously, that hit close to home for both of us. We were never able to develop that plan fully.
Terra decided to dip her toe in the waters of real estate. Just like with everything else she did, she killed it. Her business and marketing skills were carried over and instantly made her successful. She was so personable and vivacious clients loved working with her. I was so excited about this journey for her.
As mentioned above, I photographed her headshots several months before her passing. When Trey called me, he wanted to have the photographs to use for her funeral. We, of course, had so much fun during this shoot. Spilling all the tea, catching up, talking about parenting, business, and everything in between. Terra has 4 amazing kiddos, BTW.
I miss her so much. I miss our talks that always started with “gurrrllllll.”
Gosh, she is loved and missed by everyone that has ever known her.
Here are some of the images I created during our last session together. I will treasure them always.
Hug your friends and always tell them you love them.