Remembering Loved Ones: Ben and Ali Nunery
Photographs are powerful tools for remembering loved ones. When Ben Nunery’s wife, Ali, passed away of lung cancer only two years after they married, he had their wedding day photos recreated in her memory. Their little daughter, Olivia, took Ali’s place to tell a story about love through the photos. The result is a series of poignant images that capture the family memories they shared in their home together with Ali.
When Ben and Ali married in 2009, they had photos taken in their new Ohio home by Ali’s sister Melanie Pace. Ben explains on his blog that they thought having wedding photos in the empty house would be a memorable way to commemorate such a huge step in their lives.
In March of 2011, Ali found out she had a rare form of lung cancer known as Sarcomatoid Carcinoma. Nine months after the original diagnosis, at the age of 31, Ali passed away due to inoperable tumors. It had only been two-and-a-half years since their wedding and one year after their daughter, Olivia, was born.
In 2013, Ben and Olivia prepared for the next chapter of their lives in a new home. When it was time to call the movers, Ben realized that he “struggled with the thought of saying goodbye and walking away without something to commemorate such a big step in [his] and Olivia’s life.”
As a way to remember Ali and create their final family memories in their home, Ben asked Ali’s sister to recreate the old photos she had taken of them on their wedding day. The photo series shows how recreating images can be a touching way of remembering loved ones. Ben explained on his blog that the photo shoot wasn’t about grief, loss, or hurt. He wanted people to know the photo shoot was meant to be seen as a story about love.
(Photos by rockpink4ali)
Olivia, at three years old, took her mother’s place in the new photos. When put side by side with the old photos, the images are not only touching as father-daughter moments, but also as family memories of Ali and their home. In one image, Olivia pretends to curl her hair with her mom’s curling iron, recreating one of the old photos of Ali getting her hair curled on the big day. “It was fun and strange and sad and comforting and just about every other emotion you can think of,” Ben wrote. In another image, Ben plays with his daughter on the staircase of their home, the same staircase that Ali stood at the top of for the “grand reveal” on their wedding day.
At Everlasting Footprint, we celebrate and honor the life of Ali and her family. Though the photos of Ben and his daughter were taken two years ago in 2013, this story about love is still as touching today. It’s a great reminder of how special photographs can be for keeping family memories alive and for remembering loved ones.