When I first met Kaila and Matt I was so amazed by their love story that all started when they were both battling Cystic Fibrosis as children at Princess Margaret Hospital. As they got older they saw different specialists in different hospitals but one day Kaila reached out to Matthew one day on Facebook to ask for some advice about how he seemed to be doing so well in spite of his diagnosis. Matt suggested they have lunch to chat and they soon realised that they felt the most comfortable in each others company.
After both receiving lung transplants, they got engaged and then got married in 2015 and it was one of the greatest blessings in my life to photograph these milestones for them. However, their time together was cut incredibly short when in late 2017, Matt was admitted to hospital and eventually lost his battle with Cystic Fibrosis in March 2018 with his wife Kaila by his side.
I wanted to share Matt’s story because in spite of all the battles this couple fought together, they always knew to focus on what mattered. They’ve left an imprint on my own definition of what love and marriage is and in a world and industry where we can get caught up in the perfection of it all, I wanted to share Kaila’s words on what she learned during this incredibly difficult time. I hope that above all it will help you remember to laugh, breath and dance and to make every moment count with those you love.
If you want to travel, do it! Do it while you can and book the nicer room. But when you want to stay home do that too. If you want to sit on the couch all day watching Netflix; binge an entire series in a day. Laugh at yourself, but also don’t be afraid to cry. Stay up late and chat to your husband about every little thing on your mind. Don’t worry about having to get up early. You can catch up on the sleep. Enjoy the little moments. It’s something you have to be mindful of doing but the little moments are some of the most special ones. Don’t be glued to your phone but do take photos of all the memories. Take photos until your phone can’t hold anymore. And don’t forget to back them up! Eat the chocolate because it’s delicious but look after your body because it’s the only one you have.
Tell people what you want them to know. Tell them you love them or that you’re proud of them or that you’re grateful for them. Don’t wait for an occasion to buy someone a present. If you see something you know they’ll love, give it to them! Pat every dog you see. You’ll never regret patting a dog. Trust me. Celebrate your birthdays. Don’t be sad about getting older; the alternative is much worse. Breathe. I don’t think there are many people who don’t take breathing for granted. Once a day take a deep breath and realise how lucky you are.
Don’t feel bad about doing what makes YOU feel good. Volunteer. If you honestly don’t have the time, donate to charity. It feels so incredible to help others. Turn off your alarm occasionally and have a sleep in. Especially with the person (or pet) that you love. Don’t overthink things that won’t matter at the end. Just surround yourself with people, animals and things that you love. Go to places that make you happy. Do things that bring you joy.
And when I asked Matt what’s the one thing he’d change? Dance more. So dance. Whenever you can and however you want. And think of Matt while you’re dancing.