“She liked being reminded of butterflies. She remembered being six or seven and crying over the fates of the butterflies in her yard after learning that they lived for only a few days. Her mother had comforted her and told her not to be sad for the butterflies, that just because their lives were short didn’t mean they were tragic. Watching them flying in the warm sun among the daisies in their garden, her mother had said to her, see, they have a beautiful life.”
― Lisa Genova, Still Alice
I met Harper’s mother, Megan, for coffee and to talk about Picture Hope and hear Harper’s story. I was (and still am) so blown away by her graceful, calm, and grateful poise as she told me about the events that have unfolded in their lives since February. Her smile beamed with pride as she talked about her beautiful, sassy little princess and her eyes filled with tears when she told me, “I just don’t want her to be forgotten…” Megan, Harper will NEVER be forgotten.
Harper has a brain tumor, a rare and particularly deadly form of cancer called a diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG. The disease primarily affects children and has no known cure. The average life expectancy for those diagnosed with DIPG is approximately nine months.
My goal was to create a beautiful portrait of Megan and Harper, that tells the story of who Harper is. During our photoshoot, I watched as Megan, her mom, and sister-in-law all loved on Harper and helped her to be calm and comfortable. I was so touched by the tenderness between mother and daughter as Megan helped Harper explore the tea party we had set out for them. One week later, I delivered the portrait to their home. Our eyes filled with tears as Megan whispered to Harper, “Look how beautiful you are…”
I would like to say that one of the things about Megan that has impressed me most is how she has never once complained about anyone’s insensitive remarks or clumsy attempts to help. I feel that is something we can easily fall into doing when we are grieving. We find ourselves complaining about how people don’t understand, or how people always say the wrong things. I am so impressed by Megan’s grace and gratitude for those who have reached out to try and express their love.
1. She was born 17 days early. She has always been on her own time and she knew that she couldn’t wait to see the world.
2. Harp has never been one to take naps, never wanting to miss out on anything in life.
3. One of Harper’s ultrasound pictures from when she was in the womb was of her with her hands in a boxing stance. She has always been a fighter!
4. Harper is super girly; from a young age flaunting tons of accessories and purses everywhere she went.
5. Harper has always loved to swim. Her favorite spot during the summer is her ma and pa’s swimming pool.
6. She is a whiz kid when it comes to puzzles.
7. Harper used to talk about herself in the third person all the time. So when you would ask her who she was, she would reply “I Harper kid”. Thus, came the hashtag #teamharperkid.
8. Harper has always had a passion for dance.
9. Harper loves to model and strike a pose. She had the runway walk that would rival any supermodel. When asked where she learned to model, she would tell you it was from her and mommy’s favorite show, Project Runway. She loves Tim Gunn!!
10. Harper has the most tender heart. She loves everyone, no matter who they are, or whether they’re nice to her or not. She loves all kids, especially babies. And everyone loves her.
11. Harper is super witty and can make people smile or laugh with great ease.
From Megan… “Our sweet little girl, Harper Brooklynn Rodriguez, came into our world earlier than what was anticipated, being born 17 days early. June 13, 2011 would be the day that set the tone for the rest of her and our lives. Her eagerness to see and experience the world, would start from this day forward. She has always been a beautiful little girl with a warm, carefree spirit. The type of girl we all hope our children grow up to be and the person we all wish we were. Harper knows no stranger, and she marches to the beat of her own drum. She loves to play dress up, dance, sing, play tea party, accessorize, model…anything girly. Her heart is bigger than the world and she fills it daily with her love for all her friends and family. We are beyond blessed to have been given the opportunity to be Harper’s parents and best friends. She has taught us so much about love and life, and we will always live our lives to honor her in every sense of the meaning. We love you Harper!”
Harper has a PO Box that letters, cards, etc can be sent to. Her address is PO Box 390 Woodburn, OR 97071. She loves getting mail! If you would like to send a donation to the family, it can be sent to the PO box. The family has also mentioned that they would appreciate donations to The Cure Starts Now Foundation which specifically works towards finding a cure for DIPG (Harper’s tumor) and so many other childhood cancers.
Please contact us if there is someone you would like to nominate for a portrait with Picture Hope.
Our goal is to have a growing display of images that can be displayed in local businesses and spread awareness. If you know of a business, or are connected to a business that would be interested in displaying Harper’s portrait. Please contact us.
I would like to say a big thank you to Cassi Yoder for doing Megan’s hair and makeup and to Melissa Roth for filming the behind-the-scenes video footage. Thank you to the awesome staff at Deepwood Estate for letting us shoot in the perfect fairy tale setting. Also a big thank you to Miller’s Professional Imaging for their generous discount off of Harper’s print. You all are amazing!