Sometimes a photo comes around and simply takes your breath away — an image that perfectly captures what words could never convey.
Such is the case for this stunning photograph from a maternity shoot that both honors a fallen Navy man and captures the essence of true love.
Cassie Coaster and Navy Corpsman Ryan Lohrey were married in June of 2017. The couple hired Amie Akers of A Stitch in Time Photography as their wedding photographer, and she was able to perfectly capture the obvious love and devotion between the two of them as they celebrated their special day.
“The wedding went off without a hitch,” Akers recently described to Love What Matters. “It was a warm sunny day and beautiful evening even though rain had originally been forecasted. The ceremony was full of such love and joy as they celebrated with friends and family long into the night.”
Cassie Lohrey tells Babble that her wedding to Ryan was “absolutely perfect.”
She explained that following the wedding, her new husband left for training in Arizona. The couple had no way of knowing that their time together as a married couple would ultimately be very short. On July 10, 2017 the KC-130 airplane that carried Ryan crashed in Mississippi on the way to Arizona. According to CNN, 16 military members lost their lives that day. It was beyond tragic, and word soon made its way to the couple’s photographer, Akers.
“On or around July 11th I remember receiving a text from Cassie about Ryan being a victim of the July 10 military plane crash in Mississippi,” Akers recounts. “I fell into a heap on the floor. I was wrecked. It was then that I vowed to use my photography in whatever way that I could.”
Ryan was laid to rest at the end of July and his grieving bride went home, where she would soon receive a very welcome surprise.
“I found out a week after I got back from the funeral I was pregnant,” Cassie tells Babble. “It was a blessing that I was hoping for. We knew we wanted to try to have a baby as soon as we got married.”
It was a beautiful and perfect miracle in the midst of a devastating tragedy.
As her pregnancy progressed, Cassie began making plans for a special gender reveal party.
“I chose to do the gender reveal on Veterans Day with his team members and close friends to honor Ryan,” she tells Babble.
The gender reveal, which showcases Ryan’s team members pulling confetti poppers and showering the soon-to-be mom in pink, is beautiful and captures the joyful announcement of a new baby.
Cassie says that the military is “definitely a tight knit family” and this video seems to capture that perfectly.
Following the gender reveal, Cassie began making plans for a maternity photo shoot and once again enlisted the help of photographer Amie Akers. She was hoping to be able to include her late husband in the series of photographs.
“I knew I wanted Ryan to be a part of it. I know even though he couldn’t be here in person, he would be there in spirit with us,” she explains.
According to Akers, the two women “thought long and hard together about ideas [and] ways to honor him in this session.”
Akers told Love What Matters that on the day of the shoot, they got “the blessing of a short warm spell” with an “incredible warm sunset.” She then went home and got to work on finding a way to superimpose Ryan into an image with Cassie and their baby girl.
“Unbelievably the very first image I chose to try fit perfectly on one of the images we had just taken. It was magical. I wept,” she said. “I remembered thinking I couldn’t wait to send her the image just created of him by her side again with his arm wrapped around their daughter.”
The photo is nothing short of breathtaking, and Cassie can’t wait to share all the photos with her daughter one day.
“It was exactly how I envisioned. I want to have as many memories and pictures I could to be able to show her when she gets older,” Cassie tells Babble. ” I want her to feel like she knows how amazing of a person her dad was and paint a picture of him.”
Cassie says they plan to name the baby “Ryan Jo” (named after the baby girl’s late father and Cassie’s middle name). She is due to deliver around March 30th.
“We are so blessed and can’t wait for her to make her arrival,” she adds.
Corpsman Ryan Lohrey will undoubtedly live on forever in the memories of all who knew him, his beautiful daughter, and the priceless photographs that helped to document a miracle.
h/t: Love What Matters