By Tui Benjamin
A ‘terrible’ blurred snap has gone viral after a grieving mum revealed the poignant reason she cherishes the badly-taken family picture – because it is the only one she has.
For a year mum-of-three Cath Hughes, 36, couldn’t look at the fuzzy family picture of her and husband Brett Hughes with their children after Brett died in 2015 aged 35.
Cath, who is mum to daughters Lacey, seven, and four-year-old Willow and son Finn, five, hurriedly arranged a family photoshoot when Brett was diagnosed with stage four oesophageal cancer, but the civil construction worker died the same day as it was due to take place.
The copywriter, from Echuca, North Central Victoria, Australia, shared the family picture alongside a tear-jerking rant reminding busy parents to take pictures with their children while they have time.
Cath, who also runs blog Words in Wonderland, said: “For a long time I just could not look at that photo, but now I cherish it as a prized possession.
“It’s a bad photo, but when you don’t have anything you cherish absolutely anything you can get.
“I knew it may have been the only photo of us all together, but I assumed surely there would be others.
“After Brett died I realised there weren’t others, that was the only picture in existence of the five of us together.
“At the end of the day, it’s a badly-taken iPhone photo – the worst. It’s blurry and so out of focus we’re almost unrecognisable.
“It’s just five people smiling at the camera. It doesn’t adequately represent who we were as a family.
“It was taken by a well-meaning lady who was sitting with us and saw we were trying to take a photo – but I have cursed her photo-taking abilities many times since.
“Life is busy with three little children, it is so easy to think other things are more important or that you don’t have time. I learned the hard way that you should always make time.
“I thought I could lose weight or let my hair grow a bit, or let our youngest pass through that serious toddler phase. We thought we had time, but we didn’t. It is always the right time to take photos together as a family, because you never know what is coming.
“It has taken me almost two years to come to the acceptance that the message of that terrible photo is that now is the right time. What you have in this moment is enough – that is what I have learned.”
Brett and Cath married in March 2009 after first getting together in 2004 following a long friendship.
Brett was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in December 2014 after suffering from heartburn, but by the time it was discovered the disease was already stage four and had spread to other parts of his body.
Doctors told the dad-of-three and keen cricketer he had 12 to 15 months to live and make memories with his family, but he died less than six weeks later.
At the time, Cath had been working full-time as a tourism organisation CEO but she left work to care for partner of 10 years Brett and her three young children.
The blurred photo – the only one of all five family members together – was taken on Willow’s second birthday during a family day out to a local attraction in October 2014.
Cath said she and her husband had been meaning to organise a family photoshoot for several months but kept putting it off due to their busy lives.
When Brett was first diagnosed the mum-of-three booked a professional photographer but her husband’s health deteriorated so rapidly he died the same day the pictures were meant to be taken.
Since Cath shared the photo professional photographers have got in touch offering to try and edit the snap to make it clearer, but said she does not believe much can be done.
Cath said: “When Brett was diagnosed with cancer his oncologist told us ‘it’s a wild fire inside him, I can’t stop it’.
“We were told he had 12 to 15 months to create family memories and make peace with the diagnosis, but less than six weeks later he was dead.
“It was a shock, and for the last two years I have raised my kids on my own in various states of shock and trauma, relearning how to be along the way.
“Brett was an incredible family man. He was entirely devoted to his children in ways you do not see many men commit to. He just loved spending time with them and was an amazing dad.
“When you watch your husband take his last breath and there is so much you have built together, it is not just his death. It is the death of your future, everything you were going to achieve together and the life you were going to have.
“It is humbling to know people are learning from what happened to us and my words have helped them.
“You never know what is around the corner and it is important people know what their priorities should be.”
Cath’s post reads: “You’re not too fat. Your wardrobe is lovely. Your hair is perfect just how it is.
“You’re actually not too busy. You don’t need to wait until your middle child’s toothless smile is corrected by time, or your youngest self-cut fringe has grown out, or your oldest is out of that cast.
“Now is the perfect time to have photos taken. Now, before it changes. Right now. You are all perfect as you are. Take the photos. While you have time
“I have sobbed over this one photo, and the lack of better versions of it to adore. I thought we had time.
“Learn from me and have the bloody photos taken, there is nothing you will regret.
“Find a professional you like the look of, book a family session. I wish so desperately that we did. I thought we had time.”
For more of Cath’s blog click here.