Photography by Michaela Ristaino Photography
Meet Lola. She is Beauty Revived.
Two years ago today I was a bundle of nerves getting everything ready for your big Beauty Revived day. I picked up a trunkful of cards and gifts sent from around the world, confirmed that the salon was ready for you, and went over and over my plans for the day to make sure everything would be just perfect. And perfect it was. What a magical day we had.
Fast forward a year.. . Another photoshoot where we laughed and giggled and conspired about a Florida adventure. And then we made it happen! It was almost as if saying it aloud made it so. An adventure that ended with your freckled face so sunburned in spite of our repeated slathering of 50 SPF sunscreen! But what fun we had. You held tight to my shoulders so we could get past the the deep part of the gulf out to the sandbar. Your face exploded with joy as you jumped the waves. Over and over. I can’t wait to do it again. Best thing. Worst thing. That is how we ended each day.
Time is a funny thing. It just keeps on going. Here we are, two years older. Two years of friendship. How will this letter look 10 years from now? 20? I’m giddy with the promise of your future. You are 100% pure, unadulterated potential. You still have no idea how remarkable you are, or how beautiful.
You’re 11 now. And as I sit across from you, our bellies filled with Noodles, I still see the giggly, silly little girl I met two years ago. But when I lift my camera to my eye, back at the Milwaukee VA where it all started, you transform into a striking…no, a stunningly gorgeous stop-in-your-tracks young lady. With piercing green eyes that have seen too much and hold in them the age of a stormy sea. I tease you to stop looking 18, and there it is…that explosive laugh that fills the air with electricity and unabashed joy. It makes me breath catch and my heart overflow.
Not too long ago, we met for a quick visit. You wore a well broken in Wisconsin sweatshirt that looked like it could use a visit to the wash machine. On the long cycle. Then I learned that it was your mom’s and hadn’t been washed since the last time she wore it. And my heart breaks for you. Because sometimes I forget. I forget that you are still a little girl who deeply and desperately misses her mom. And it makes me want to wrap you up in every last bit of her and squeeze you so tightly so that you never ever doubt how much she loves you. She lives in you. I think you know that. The very best and brightest bits of her shine out of you daily. I see it in your eyes and your laugh. I look through your pictures and there she is. Kate.
I’ll say it again. You have no idea how beautiful you are. From your head to your toes, with a beauty that burns so brightly from deep in your heart that it can’t be contained. It starts as a tiny spark of light and explodes from your smile with the force of a thousand suns.
I’m so profoundly proud of you. I’m proud of your tender heart and shining spirit. I’m proud of your creative mind and your silly sense of humor. I’m proud to call you my friend.
Just look at what we’ve created together.
I love that this is our “thing” and no one can take that away from us.
Best thing: Seeing you and capturing a tiny fraction of the amazingness that is you.
Worst thing: Saying goodbye. Not forever. Just for now.
Spread your wings, little one. And don’t ever stop wishing.
Thank you, sweet girl, for being my friend.
I love you.
About the Photographer
Michaela Ristaino of Michaela Ristaino Photography is a portrait photographer residing in beautiful Sarasota Florida. A frequent victim of wanderlust, she can often be found with her trusty Canon, traveling across the country capturing smiles, twirls, and other joyful moments. This is her 6th campaign and she is honored and humbled to be part of the amazing Beauty Revived movement. But even moreso, she is grateful that Beauty Revived has allowed her to be a part of this phenomenal girl’s life. #OperationLoveLola