My V-Day will NEVER be the same, and I’m finally okay with that. 

I haven’t been in an airport around this time of the year since 2013.

I can remember being in the airport and looking out the window trying to figure out what was going to become of my life after I landed.
I knew that I was going back to a familiar place; A place I called home.

“Ronnika, you must tell your story. Be transparent.” They said. The only way to know it’s authentic is if you are able to share your story, first.

Well, the Final 48 Project began with me. A young woman from Benton Harbor, MI who wanted to find a way to deal with losing the first man I’ve ever loved. My father.

This journey of dealing with grief has not been easy. I still have my moments when it feels surreal. I spent the last moments of my father’s life, apologizing for past mistakes, reflecting on fondest memories, and watching him fight for his life until the very end.

There were some days that I questioned God. Yes, I had the nerve to question God. I asked God for signs that I missed as if they would help with the closure of losing my dad. I asked for signs as if I could warp back in time and change something. Silly me, right?!

Should I have said, “I love you” more? Why didn’t I finish grad school before he passed? Why did he keep his illness from us?
His illness was his journey and his battle. There’s nothing I could do about it. He fought like the true soldier that he was.

I came to the conclusion that my actions can outweigh any verbal exchange of affection. My dad taught me that. Even though it was very difficult for him to say, I love you, he was able to show it in many different ways.

His death motivated me to finish grad school with honors, write a children’s book series, and one more thing, oh yeah, this interactive documentary called the Final 48 Project – A platform to “unpack” grief.

Everyone is not given the opportunity to share the final hours with a loved one or close friend. So, I wanted to create a way to honor that person in a unique way.

Over the next couple of months I will introduce you to our campaign. I’ve partnered with some amazing people and excited to bring this project to you!

Welcome to the “Photography Love Letter” series for the Final 48 Project!


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