Ben Nunery, an Ohio man who lost his wife Ali to cancer two years ago, wanted to create one last powerful memory of the house they built together before he and his daughter, Olivia, moved to a different neighbourhood.
“These past two years have had no shortage of emotional hurdles to overcome, some small and some large, but none as big as saying goodbye to the home that Ali and I built together,” Ben wrote on his blog. “In many ways it felt like the last vestige of the life that we set out to build together. It felt as though leaving that house would be the first step in a new life that Olivia and I would build together…without Ali.”
To pay homage to the memories they made together in that home, Ben invited Ali’s sister, professional photographer Melanie Pace, to recreate the wedding photos she had taken there more than four years ago. Three-year-old Olivia would take her mother’s place.
“We set out to once again do a photo session in that empty house. Only this time I would have a different partner, although one just as beautiful,” Ben wrote on his blog. “It was fun and strange and sad and comforting and just about every other emotion you can think of.”
On the left is a photo Ben and Ali took on their wedding day in 2009. They had bought the house just the day before, and it was still empty. The house was empty again in the recreated photo, this time because they were preparing to move.
“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,” he wrote. “I wanted to be able to show Olivia the place where her mother and I started our lives together and dreamed of raising children.”
Olivia finds her mother’s curling iron in the hallway. On the right, Ali prepares for the big day.
In this photo, Olivia looked too small next to the railing, so Pace had the father-daughter pair play on the stairs instead.
“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 realised that it’s just a house. The memories of Ali don’t live in that house,” Ben wrote. “They live with us, in our hearts.”
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