Losing a parent is one of the hardest things for any person to go through.
Many struggle to cope with the loss and it is incredibly difficult to find a way to move past such a massive lost. What’s worse is when you lose a parent at such a young age. You will hardly have any memories with that parent to help comfort you through the hardship. The best you will get is stories from other people which can often be hard as well.
Tragically, for this sweet girl Taliya Thomas, she lost her father at just 8 months old. Before she could even crawl she had to say goodbye to her father. Her father, Cruz Thomas a Franklin County Deputy Sheriff lost his life in a terrible car accident. Despite losing him at such a young age, Taliya has been told many stories by her aunt and paternal grandparents who remind her of the love and adoration he had for her.
As part of her birthday ritual, little Taliya poses for a photoshoot where she honors her father and other police officers who have fallen on the line of duty. She dresses up in his uniform, hat, badge and all. Although she misses her father dearly, she also knows that he will always have her back.
When they began the photoshoot with Mary Lee Photography, Taliya quickly dropped to her knees, wearing her father’s old uniform shirt as she prayed to help those who have been lost on the line of duty.
Both the officers and their families.Tragically, Taliya knows all too well what it is like to lose a beloved family member.
However while Taliya misses her father dearly, she also hasn’t let the huge loss slow her down. She continues to grow and persevere in her father’s honor. She is truly an inspiration to many for her strength.
Above you can see Taliya with her father’s badge. An item she treasures as a connection to her father.
During the photography session there was a little yellow butterfly that flew around and followed little Taliya. It was so persistent that Mary Lee and Taliya had to retake a few photos quite a few times! Perhaps a sign from her father in heaven?
Taylia sure seemed convinced that it was! She told Mary Lee
That’s my daddy. He’s sending me butterfly kisses from heaven.
Her optimism is truly inspiring.
Taliya constantly talks with her aunt Desiree and her paternal grandparents to hear stories about her father and to learn more about him. Even though she only knew him for 8 months she has begun to build up a lifetime of memories of her father. Thanks to Taliya her father will never be forgotten.
The tradition of honoring her father began on her first birthday where Taliya visited her father’s grave. Mary Lee knew that she needed to photograph this incredible memory.
It isn’t just his family that are celebrate the memory of Cruz Thomas. The family has also setup a scholarship for students in the name of Cruz Thomas. The scholarship is funded by an annual fundraiser called the Cruz Thomas Memorial Ride. Part of the proceeds from that event also go to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Atlanta, GA. Cruz Thomas is still helping the world through spirit, thanks to his loving family.
At the end of their annual photography session, Taliya takes a group of balloons and releases them into the air. The balloons ascend all the way to the heavens so that her father can celebrate alongside her. It’s a beautiful gesture.
We’re struggling to fight back the tears at how incredible this little girl is. I can only hope my children remember me like this little girl remembers her father.