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Erika and Stephen Jones of Jacksonville, Florida, were overjoyed awaiting their second child. But in the 18th week of pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed the telltale signs of Down Syndrome. After their initial shock, they decided to keep the baby, but there was more to come. Several more months went by but then doctors saw something truly heartbreaking: their baby had a brain tumor.
The tumor was clearly malignant. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments would be deadly for a newborn infant, so by the time their baby Abigail was born in August, Stephen and Erika knew they wouldn't have much time with her. But just holding this tiny little girl, they were overwhelmed by a feeling of good fortune. "She moves, giggles, sticks her tongue out, opens her eyes, holds our fingers, and does all the things that babies do. She really impressed us and beat all of our expectations," they later recounted.
The tumor was expected to shorten Abigail's life to weeks or at the most, a few months. Her parents decided therefore to spend as much time as they possibly could with her and her two-year-old sister Audrey. They asked a photographer to capture the wonderful moments together on camera. Each hour, every touch and smile, was invaluable. "I want people to see the beauty and hope that still existed next to the grief and sadness," said the photographer, Mary Huszcza.
"So many people think that this is a hopeless and tragic situation," explained Erika. "And sometimes that's exactly how it feels. But the moments of peace and joy outweigh the sadness by far. When Abigail dies, it won't be in a plastic box in the hospital. It will be at home with us, surrounded by love and held in our arms."
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