Amanda Crowe Freebird lost her daughter, Azalee, two years ago to cancer.
Though Amanda has since tried her hardest to embrace life, even on her wedding day, she says she was “heartbroken” that her little girl couldn’t be there.
Amanda’s good friend and photographer, Ashley Frantz, wanted to give the grieving mom a wedding gift she’d never forget.
The two met through a mutual friend after Azalee learned her prognosis and was undergoing treatment at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Frantz tells Independent Journal:
“They [the friend] just asked me to call and pray with Amanda and encourage her, but we stayed friends after that day,” Ashley explains. “Her family is so strong and humble that even as I was trying to bless them through their journey, they blessed me instead.”
As a way to support her Amanda on her big day, Ashley took her wedding photos free of charge.
Ashley has a daughter of her own and tells Independent Journal that her heart “broke over and over again” for Amanda knowing that Azalee couldn’t physically be there.
Instead, she photoshopped this photo of Amanda and her little angel:
The beautiful photo has since gone viral, but Ashley says that’s not the only moment Azalee’s presence was felt at the ceremony.
According the the Courier Mail, Amanda and her husband, Chip, released butterflies in honor of her baby girl.
But something incredible happened during the release — one landed right on Amanda’s wedding dress.
“When the butterfly landed on Amanda’s chest near her heart, it was like electricity shot through my body,” Ashley recalls. “It was so powerful and in that moment we knew it was Azalee and God showing us they were there.”
Ashley says she struggled to capture the moment as she fought back tears, “tears of sadness, joy and because, as a mom, my heart broke for her.”
The touching moment was undoubtedly special for Amanda, but little does she know, Ashley says she’s “forever changed.”
“I will never be the same after this wedding. I have a 5-year-old daughter and the entire time I was shooting the ceremony all I could think of is how Azalee wasn’t there. I love my daughter with every bit of me, but now I hug her just a little tighter and kiss her more often.”
Ashley, who does much of her photography work for free of charge or at a discounted rate, has remained humble about the photo, giving all the glory right back to God.
“I need new equipment but refuse to charge more, so I just make it work. But then things like this happen and God opens doors for new clientele, and I am reminded why I stay true to my heart.”
The photo everyone’s talking about is truly stunning, but capturing this moment is likely treasured by Amanda just as much.