North Park San Diego Engagement | Christine + Arnaud

Several months ago, I third-wheeled Christine + Arnaud’s date night engagement session in North Park. We started with tea at Communal Coffee, ran around the streets a bit, and ended with drinks at Polite Provisions. We had a freakin’ blast and I’m pretty sure we spent more time talking + laughing than actually shooting (oops). They were hilarious + clearly adored the heck out of each other.


A few days later, Arnaud died in a motorcycle accident and two weeks to the day after our shoot, I photographed his funeral. I found out about his passing the morning of a wedding and felt so enormously grateful to be able to feed off the warm energy of my newly married couple that day. Every beautiful moment felt so magnified. It feels silly to talk about how much this rocked me because it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what Arnaud’s friend’s + family went through, but it was the biggest reality check that needs to be shared.


With so much tragedy in our world lately, it can be easy to let the reminders of, “hug your loved ones tightly”, go in one ear and out the other. We get busy, work gets frustrating, someone cuts us off on the freeway. These little things clutter us and feel so important, but I’m so deeply grateful for the dirty dish my husband left in the sink because it means he’s there. It means we cuddled and watched a movie on the couch last night after dinner in lieu of cleaning the kitchen. I’m cherishing every tiny, mundane, wonderful moment. We only get so much time with these people we love.


I finished editing these photos after his passing, but I’m happy she has physical memories from their last love-filled weekend together.

 

Christine's trajectory changed that day. She and Arn had a plan for their future which included applying for graduate school in a couple years. Instead, she applied shortly after his passing, committed to living out their plan even if on a different timeline. In her application, she was prompted to recall the most interesting day or moment in her life. With her permission, I wanted to share her essay in Arnaud's honor:

 

"On November 10, 2017 at 4:10 PM, my husband, Arnaud Vedy, unexpectedly passed away, one day before his 30th birthday. He was hit by a truck while riding on his motorcycle and passed immediately without pain. The only consolation with his unexpected passing is that he passed while doing something he loved and without pain. What more can one ask?

 

That day changed my life, as it changed all those who knew him. I grieved, I sobbed, and I screamed in sadness and in pain. I was numb but the numbness always faded when it came to the deep pang of sadness I felt in my heart. I knew the only way to get through this was to have a plan. But planning was such an emotional trigger as Arnaud and I had a plan. In fact, we had a 10-year plan. Now, not only do I have to recreate the plan, but I have to recreate it alone and without the love of my life in the picture.

 

Arnaud and I lived in San Diego. Arnaud worked at the City of San Diego and his career was thriving. In fact, on December 4, 2017, the City Council meeting was adjourned in memory of him. I, on the other hand, also had an amazing job, with a team and company that felt like a family. We planned on living in San Diego until 2020 and would move (hopefully to LA) to wherever my graduate studies would take us. Now, here I am, applying two years earlier than anticipated.

 

I am still grieving and will grieve for the rest of my life. In the beginning, I grieved by soaking deeply in my sadness. The mere thought of the next hour was unfathomable, let alone the next day, month, or year. But now, my grief has transformed into a fearless drive of resiliently following my dreams and continuing the plan that Arnaud and I had. The plan of continuing our success, academically, professionally, and personally.

 

So, to conclude, November 10, 2017 at 4:10 PM has been and will always be the most interesting moment of my life. I learned many things but the most important thing that I learned is that life is way too short to not follow my dreams."

 

Here's to Christine + Arnaud. 

Elyse Whall

Plum & Oak Photo, 28545 Old Town Front Street #201-A, Temecula, CA, 92590